The American Wind Energy Association ("AWEA") and the North American Electric Reliability Council ("NERC") asked FERC to accept their settlement on technical standards regarding wind generator interconnections, avoiding the public battle over reliability that was threatened when NERC complained that standards FERC previously proposed posed an "unacceptable risk to the reliability of the bulk electric system."
In response to a 2004 petition for rulemaking from AWEA, FERC had adopted a rule allowing asynchronous generators such as wind plants to disconnect from the grid when voltage at the point of interconnection drops below 15%. In a rehearing request last July, NERC argued that these low-voltage ridethrough standards fell short of NERC requirements. Later discussions between NERC and AWEA led to the settlement, which proposes that, following a transition period, wind generators be able to remain on-line even if the voltage levels fall to 0%. The transition period would give wind generators sufficient time to adopt technology to meet the stricter low-voltage ridethrough standards. Individual transmission providers would, as before, be able to request deviations from these standards.
In light of the attention industry and government officials are giving to grid reliability, resolution of this dispute represents a step towards potentially greater integration of wind power in the nation's electric power grid.