In June FERC took further steps to aid wind energy development. It finalized technical specifications in a new rule for interconnecting wind energy generators to the transmission grid. The new specifications supplement FERC's earlier creation of a standard interconnection agreement and standard procedures for generator interconnections, which jurisdictional transmission providers must follow. Because of the unique operating characteristics of wind energy generators, FERC exempted wind energy interconnections from certain requirements of the interconnection rule.
The new rule is intended to address the unique characteristics of wind energy generation. It requires that wind energy plants seeking grid interconnection to (1) demonstrate the ability to remain online during voltage disturbances up to certain time periods and associated voltage levels if the transmission provider's system impact study shows that low voltage ride-through capability is required to ensure safety or reliability, (2) have supervisory control and data acquisition ("SCADA") capability to transmit data and receive instructions from the transmission provider to protect the safety and reliability of the transmission system, and (3) satisfy the reactive power requirement of maintaining a power factor within the range of 0.95 leading-lagging, measured at the point of interconnection as defined in the interconnection agreement, if the transmission provider's system impact study shows that such a requirement is necessary to ensure safety or reliability.
FERC's other ongoing initiatives relating to wind energy include a proposed rule on imbalance charges and discussions regarding transmission services more suitable to the characteristics of wind energy. While supported by wind energy interests, both initiatives have met with resistance from some other sectors of the energy industry who claim wind energy may be getting preferential treatment. [Interconnection for Wind Energy, 111 FERC ¶ 61,353 (2005)] [UPDATE]