Keeping up with CAISO – What We Learned at the CAISO Resource Interconnection Fair

CAISO circle

Last week DC Systems traveled to Folsom, CA to attend CAISO’s first Resource Interconnection Fair. The event was well-attended and the constant flow of questions from the audience confirmed what we, as providers of one part of the interconnection solution, already knew: especially for first time inter-connectors, but even for companies who have been through the process many times, the CAISO interconnection process is viewed as something of a black hole and can be quite daunting.

Fair sessions highlighted key information about each stage of the interconnection process.

Fair sessions highlighted key information about each stage of the interconnection process.

 

For those in or about to enter the interconnection process, a couple themes of the day bear repeating:

 

The process will continue to evolve. 

CAISO is constantly working to simplify the interconnection process for stakeholders – a good thing. As a result, though, CAISO process and requirements will be continue to change, in step. Recent and upcoming changes discussed at the fair include:

  • The introduction of the “New Resource Interconnection Checklist”
  • The new requirement that different parties program and inspect meters installed onsite
  • CAISO is actively testing lower cost alternatives to current communications options (ECN and modem)

Changes like these will ultimately simplify and lower the cost of interconnection. In the meantime, companies must work to stay abreast of the latest updates to the interconnection process, as requirements are likely to evolve between projects.

 

Good planning matters.

CAISO rewards teams that plan well and have done their due diligence. Read: start early, submit your paperwork on time and filled out correctly, and test in advance.

“By far, the biggest challenge we are seeing right now is the documentation,” said Mike Russell, CAISO Manager of Market Services Meter Engineering & Analysis. “There are so many complex parts in this process — from getting the necessary environmental permits, to scheduling people, to getting machinery on site – but it’s the documentation that trips people up. I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of dollars – one firm lost millions in lost incentives—because people can’t get their documentation in on time.”

For those who submit documentation early, CAISO will work with applicants to fix errors so the rest of the process runs smoothly. “We are here to help,” Russell explained, “but if you wait too close to the deadline and there are errors, it’s too late — your process will be delayed.”

Mike also emphasized the importance of testing metering and telemetry in advance. “Our field team has a packed schedule. If there are lots of problems during your test and it’s clear you haven’t pre-tested, we’ll stop testing and you’ll have to reschedule the appointment.”

In a nutshell – CAISO is more than willing to help in the process, but teams must do their homework.

 

And therein lies the rub.

Good planning is rewarded, but planning relies on a thorough understanding of a process that is constantly changing. DC Systems’ RIG and CAISO Interconnection Project Manager, Christine Zimmerman, offers the following advice:

  • The New Resource Implementation Checklist is a valuable tool, and it’s well worth the time to go line by line down the checklist and dig deep so you know what’s coming next.
  • You can’t control CAISO, or how long it takes them to approve things, but if you get your paperwork in early, you do get a bit of priority.
  • Take your pre-testing seriously – this is why DC Systems is so diligent about physically testing communication issues on site and setting up an environment so we can test as if we are CAISO — lead time to reschedule with CAISO is 6 weeks, so you want to get it right the first time.

All in all, it was a productive day in Folsom. We enjoyed hearing questions on the minds of the other attendees and look forward to bringing the insights we gathered back to our customers.

If you have questions about metering and telemetry or other elements of the interconnection process, please reach out – we’re here to help. Learn more about DC Systems’ RT|Remote Intelligent Gateway.