On July 7, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a notice seeking comments on a petition for rulemaking filed by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The petition asks FERC to implement reforms to the rules governing the interconnection of electric generation facilities to the transmission system, which typically involves a complex and time-consuming interconnection study process conducted by the relevant transmission provider. AWEA argues in its petition that reforms to FERC’s pro forma Large Generator Interconnection Procedures (GIP) and Large Generator Interconnection Agreement are necessary to address various challenges in the interconnection process that are presenting barriers to entry for new development. The proposed reforms involve, among other things, enhancing certainty and timeliness in the interconnection study process.

For example, AWEA notes in the petition that transmission providers have no real obligation under their governing rules to provide timely interconnection study results, because they are held to a vague and difficult-to-enforce “reasonable efforts” standard. While FERC’s pro forma GIP provides approximate time frames for the study process, AWEA argues that the “reasonable efforts” standard imposes no consequences on a transmission provider that fails to comply with the GIP timelines. AWEA therefore asks FERC to remove the “reasonable efforts” standard from the pro forma GIP and require transmission providers to provide study results by the dates listed in the provider’s GIP. AWEA proposes financial penalties for transmission providers that fail to adhere to the study timelines.

Other proposed reforms include limiting the amount of restudies to one per year and capping a project developers’ additional cost responsibility for network upgrades and interconnection facilities at a stated accuracy margin.

A petition for rulemaking is one of the ways in which a rulemaking process may begin at FERC. FERC’s notice of the petition initiates a comment period that will allow interested parties to provide FERC with their perspectives on the issues raised in the petition. After FERC reviews the filed comments, the agency may issue an order or notice denying the petition, or it may decide to initiate further action, such as through a Notice of Inquiry or a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Comments on the petition may be filed by any interested party until August 6, 2015.