On January 29, 2010, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) conditionally approved the Southwest Power Pool Inc.’s (“SPP”) proposed interim interconnection service as well as its accompanying pro forma Interim Large Generator Interconnection Agreement (“Interim LGIA”).  Under SPP’s proposal, interconnection customers can interconnect their generating facilities using existing capacity before the interconnection process is complete so long as the generating facility’s projected in-service date occurs before the study is completed.  SPP’s proposal is effective as of December 2, 2009. 

Since FERC issued Order No. 2003, the Standardization of Generator Interconnection Agreements and Procedures, SPP has been backlogged with interconnection requests.  In order to alleviate the problem, SPP stated in May 2009 that it would offer interim interconnection service.  In a subsequent compliance order, FERC stated that SPP should amend its tariff first before offering such a service.

On June 1, 2009 SPP submitted new interconnection procedures in order to provide the interim interconnection service.  These procedures included three different interconnection study queues (1) the feasibility study queue; (2) the preliminary system impact study queue (which would become a system impact study); and (3) the definitive system impact study queue, which is the first required stage in the interconnection process and becomes a system impact study and a facilities study.  FERC conditionally approved SPP’s filing and asked for an additional compliance filing.  On December 1, 2009, SPP made its compliance filing, which included the Interim LGIA. 

In general, SPP will provide the interim interconnection service when the transmission system topology and in-service generation analysis shows that the interim interconnection service is not only feasible, but that there will be minimal or no upgrades required before interconnection.  In turn, customers will have to meet the terms and conditions within the definitive system impact study (as apposed to just the feasibility and preliminary queues), submit a written request for interim interconnection service, and agree to pay for all costs of additional SPP studies necessary to evaluate the feasibility of the request.  SPP noted that the interim interconnection service is optional and thus, will not change a customer’s queue position.   

In approving SPP’s proposal, FERC noted that a Regional Transmission Organization such as SPP is entitled to “greater flexibility to customize its interconnection procedures and agreements to fit regional needs” under the independent entity variation standard.  As such, SPP “is less likely to act in an unduly discriminatory manner than a transmission provider that is a market participant.”  FERC recognized that SPP will base any interconnection decisions on the objective study results, and that customers should file complaints with FERC if there is a case of discrimination.  However, FERC ruled that SPP, through a compliance filing, must require project developers to meet certain milestone requirements in order to benchmark an interconnection customer’s commitment before receiving interim interconnection service.  SPP will have 30 days to address these concerns.   

The full order approving SPP’s interim interconnection service is available at www.ferc.gov under Docket No. ER10-352.