On December 4, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) issued an order and proposed amendments to administrative rules regulating interconnection applications with electric distribution utilities (EDUs). After receiving numerous comments from EDUs and other stakeholders on various topics, the PUCO outlined a streamlined process that should expedite interconnection for generation systems. The current multi-level application process will be streamlined under the new rules into three levels. Most inverter-based generators of up to 25 kW system nameplate capacity will be processed under Level 1 review, with an expedited review and a combined application form and interconnection agreement. Systems that fail Level 1 review can be resubmitted for Level 2 or 3 review without losing their queue position at the PUCO. Level 2 (up to 2 MW) review procedures were also modified and will allow fast track eligibility at 500 kW, regardless of location, for lines at 5 kV or less. The new rules also include a pre-application report process to make project siting and planning guidance information from utilities more accessible to developers. Finally, PUCO staff proposed, and the PUCO accepted, a more formalized review process for the supplemental review of minor system modifications.
The PUCO also considered and rejected several proposals that were raised during the review process, including a suggestion to remove the 20 MW capacity limit for state jurisdiction over facilities seeking to connect at the distribution level. Generators of 20 MW or larger should collaborate with EDUs for distribution-level interconnection on a case-by-case basis to seek approval through the PJM Interconnection process. Proposals to make the Ohio interconnection queue public, similar to the PJM process, and to create a field-certified equipment database were also considered, but not adopted. After a statutory rehearing process at the PUCO, the rules will be filed with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) in the spring of 2014 and should go into effect in the summer of 2014. A copy of the proposed rules and the PUCO order analyzing them is available on the PUCO docket here.