Arizona Corporation Commission
1200 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Re: Exceptions to APS Interconnection Manual, Docket E-01345A-20-0152
Madam Chair and Commissioners,
The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA) hereby files its Exceptions to Staff’s Memorandum and Proposed Order filed on September 29th, 2022. AriSEIA appreciates Staff’s efforts in reviewing Arizona Public Service’s (APS) Draft Interconnection Manual (the “Manual”). AriSEIA believes that the Order should be amended to incorporate several outstanding changes that are important to simplifying the interconnection process and are justified based on established technology performance across the globe and in other leading U.S. markets. The following Exceptions detail what changes must be made so that APS customers can further benefit from distributed generation, which will play a critical role in modernization of the grid.
As further background, AriSEIA participated in extensive review and discussion of the Manual with Staff and APS personnel throughout 2022, and we have filed comments in this docket and submitted written feedback to both APS and Staff on outstanding issues. During the deliberation on the Commission’s Interconnection Rulemaking, we expressed our concern that there are many utility requirements that unnecessarily inflate costs while adding unnecessary time and complexity to the process for interconnecting distributed generation systems in APS territory. The Exceptions detailed herein remain in the spirit of this prior notion.
I. Production Meters for Energy Storage Systems (Section 9.2(C) and (D) of the Manual)
Section 9.2.(C) of the Manual states that a customer must provide Production Metering for any Static Inverter based Energy Storage System (ESS) (i.e., battery backup system). In addition to requiring Production Metering, Section 9.2.(D) further requires that “[c]ustomer must provide a suitable visible open disconnecting means […] to electrically isolate any CT rated meter from all potential sources of power.”
AriSEIA strongly believes that Production Metering requirements and, by extension, additional disconnecting means, are unreasonable and unwarranted for any residential or commercial customer-owned ESS designed to provide value strictly “behind the meter.” A solar system Production Meter captures all of its production. When discharging, backup batteries do not create new energy production. Furthermore, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) already acknowledged these arguments and agreed to remove their requirement for ESS Production Metering in the latest version of their Interconnection Manual filed and approved earlier this year.
A proposed amendment making this modification is attached below as Attachment A, AriSEIA Proposed Amendment No. 1.
II. Production Meters for All Generating Facilities (Section 9 of the Manual)
In general, and as an extension of our comments above, AriSEIA contends that Production Meters for any customer-owned Generating Facility are unwarranted in the post-incentive era, which included Performance-Based Incentives (PBI) and Upfront Incentives in exchange for ownership of a customer’s Renewable Energy Credits (REC). The applicable requirements of Section 9 are costly and burdensome when considering that distributed generation industries are disproportionately impacted by supply chain and inflation conditions to the extent that project viability is seriously impacted. Meanwhile, it is entirely feasible for regulators and utility companies alike to estimate solar production based on the system details included in Interconnection Applications, and we contend that such estimates are sufficient in lieu of Production Metering.
A proposed amendment making this modification is attached below as Attachment B, AriSEIA Proposed Amendment No. 2.
III. Ground Fault Detection Requirements for Class III Systems (Section 10.2(B)(2)e. and (3)e. of the Manual)
Section 10.2(B)(2)e and (3)e. states that systems in the applicable size range may require the addition of ground fault detectors in cases where the Generating Facility parallels the utility through a transformer with ungrounded configurations (float wye or delta). Utility systems must already include ground fault detection and protection with or without the presence of customer-owned Generating Facilities. In addition, Screen B of Appendix B: Interconnection Application Screens validates whether a Generating Facility’s ground fault current contributions are low enough to be safe, and any system passing this Screen should, therefore, be accommodated through existing utility equipment. At a minimum, AriSEIA contends that a clear exemption from additional ground fault detection equipment must exist for any systems which pass Screen B, as well as Non-Exporting Systems and Inadvertent Export Systems of 20 kW or less.
A proposed amendment making this modification is attached below as Attachment C, AriSEIA Proposed Amendment No. 3.
IV. Study Feed (Appendix C of the Manual)
The Commission’s Rules for Interconnection established that fees are allowed for utility studies “if a tariff containing such a fee for the Utility has been approved by the Commission.” Both APS and TEP include written handbook provisions which require specific fee deposit payments and provide for refunds through subsequent adjustment to the actual study costs (though costs are not defined). AriSEIA members consistently experience disproportionately high utility study deposits relative to the actual charges that are attributable to the work involved. Refunds are issued after extended periods of time (often in excess of 12 months) and represent a consistent majority of the original deposits that were made. Considering the excessive study deposits that the industry continues to grapple with, AriSEIA contends that the deposit amounts, and philosophy on study deposits, be revised in accordance with the following comments, and should be submitted to the Commission for approval:
A proposed amendment making this modification is attached below as Attachment D, AriSEIA Proposed Amendment No. 4.
V. Rate Schedules Applicable to Distributed Generation, System Size Limiting Factors (Appendix D of the Manual)
Under System Size Limiting Factors in Appendix D of the Manual, item 1.b., the methodology for calculating the maximum system size for non-residential DG systems is presented as “125% of connected load for its meter, where connected load is defined as the maximum demand divided by 0.6.” Item 2.a. further defines that the “connected load is measured in AC.” Based on AriSEIA discussions with Staff and APS, and written redlines from APS, AriSEIA notes that the intent of the definition in 2.a. was to establish that the system size is measured in AC, rather than “connected load,” which would translate to the output of the methodology in 1.b. being a non-residential DG maximum system size measured in kW AC.
A proposed amendment making this modification is attached below as Attachment E, AriSEIA Proposed Amendment No. 5.
Because these manuals are iterative, the utilities should establish a stakeholder process to discuss developing issues with the manuals and technological change.
We respectfully request the Commission direct APS to file a revised Manual with the amendments attached below by November 15, 2022, to be effective immediately upon filing. Thank you for considering these comments meant to improve the compliance of the APS Manual with the spirit and letter of the Commission’s Interconnection Rules.
Arizona Corporation Commission
1200 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Re: APS Interconnection Manual, Docket E-01345A-20-0152
Madam Chair and Commissioners,
This item is scheduled for the Staff Meeting on August 16, 2022, as number 11. The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA) has reviewed the Arizona Public Service (APS) Interconnection Requirements for Distributed Generation Rev. 9.0 dated May 6, 2022, and as amended in redlined versions from APS on July 20, 2022 and August 10, 2022 (the “Manual”). We have filed comments in this docket, met with APS and Commission Staff several times, and have submitted written feedback to both APS and Staff on outstanding issues.
During the deliberation on the Commission’s Interconnection Rulemaking, we expressed our concern that there are many utility requirements that unnecessarily inflate cost while adding time and complexity to the process for interconnecting distributed generation systems in APS territory. Unfortunately, the July 24, 2020, Rev. 8.5 Manual shown on the APS website is the Manual currently being utilized by APS, despite numerous elements that make interconnecting distributed generation needlessly costly for consumers. In fact, in some respects, APS ignores the Commission’s Interconnection Rules. The usage of this older version of the manual is very detrimental to our member companies. This stands in stark contrast to Tucson Electric Power (TEP) who adjusted their interconnection requirements with each revision of their handbook as issues were identified and eliminated during the stakeholder process. The APS Manual revisions to date make multiple changes as a result of stakeholder engagement that address issues that continue to impact the cost, size, and schedules of projects over two and a half years after the Commission’s Interconnection Rules became effective.
We respectfully request the Commission direct APS to file a revised Manual no later than August 31, 2022 and to utilize that version until a final vote by the Commission. Given the significant delay in the finalization of the Manual, we request this matter be noticed for a final vote on the October Open Meeting agenda.
Thank you for considering these comments meant to improve the compliance of the APS document with the spirit and letter of the Commission’s Interconnection Rules.
Board of Directors
Commissioners approved Tucson Electric Power Company’s (TEP) revised Distributed Generation Interconnection Manual. The creation of these manuals was required following the Commission passing rules dealing with the interconnection of distributed generation facilities. TEP’s manual lays out technical and safety requirements that customers within its service territory must follow when interconnecting a distributed generation system, such as residential and commercial solar projects, to the existing grid. The manual is meant to create a standardization process for customers.
TEP’s manual was initially approved at the Commission’s February 2022 Open Meeting, however, following the passage of AriSEIA proposed amendments at that meeting, a revision to the manual was necessary. After several meetings between AriSEIA, TEP, and ACC Staff, the manual was revised to include information regarding Meter Socket Adapters (MSA), detailing their use for generating facilities. The manual was updated to better preserve the Super-Fast Track and Fast Track designations, allowing for faster review tracks for qualified projects. The revised manual also clarifies study cost fees customers are responsible for prior to beginning any study. TEP’s revised manual does not prematurely require inverters to comply with the IEEE sections that are not yet developed or for which equipment is not yet capable of compliance. Further, the manual modified its requirements around transfer trip infrastructure so as not to be overly burdensome, thereby reducing costs for large installations. Finally, the revised manual includes an additional section that provides a list of scenarios meriting an extension of time.
All documents related to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission’s online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number E-01933A-20-0116.
AriSEIA joined a letter with several solar companies asking the Arizona Corporation Commission to direct its Staff to issue a Proposed Order on APS' outstanding interconnection manual, so that the manual can be voted on as soon as the May Open Meeting. The APS manual was filed and has been awaiting review by the Commission for years. This follows a letter by AriSEIA asking for a vote on this matter last year. A status update on this matter is on the agenda for the April Open Meeting, which is this week.
AriSEIA filed extensive comments and amendments on Friday, February 4, 2022 with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) calling for changes with Tucson Electric Power (TEP)'s interconnection manual. Specifically, AriSEIA proposed changes to the treatment of Meter Socket Adapters; Construction Timelines; Fast Track, Non-Exporting, and Inadvertent Export Systems; and Fees and Costs charged to customers. This matter is on the agenda for the ACC's February Open Meeting on February 8, 2022. You can find the agenda and watch the meeting here.
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