Optimizing Distribution-Level Interconnections

Optimizing Distribution-Level Interconnections

Addressing Issues for Solar, Storage, & DERs in the Era of COVID-19

June 22, 2020 | Online :: Central Time

The distribution grid is becoming an increasingly complex energy ecosystem, as solar, battery storage, and other DERs move into mainstream use.  The energy industry is still learning how these new technologies will impact the grid, with consideration given to the different sizes, capabilities, and forms (i.e. “hybrid” solar + storage) these projects are being proposed and developed.  This has made the interconnection process for these resources a complicated procedure, calling for new methodology and collaboration from all entities involved in the interconnection process.  In addition to existing complications, the era of COVID-19 has created new challenges and questions surrounding generator interconnection practices. 

This course will focus on the special consideration required for small renewable generator and distributed energy resource (DER) projects to the distribution grid, while also evaluating the impacts of COVID-19 that will call for additional new management practices.  Sessions will compare the interconnection processes and experiences of different entities across the country, identify the technical requirements of the interconnection process from start to finish, and evaluate the layers of regulations, requirements and standards.  Discussions will emphasize how the interconnection process can help ensure grid connection for these resources in an optimal way that maintains system stability and reliability, addressing how these projects can best be managed to control operational aspects of the modern distribution grid that contains high renewable and DER penetrations.  Utility case studies from across the country will be highlighted, as well as the developer perspective – evaluating how to best collaborate to overcome common miscommunications and delays around projects in the interconnection queue. 

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss how utility interconnection staff are addressing new impacts of COVID-19 on interconnection management practices
  • Evaluate how new technologies and a changing grid create new technical and operational challenges for interconnection
  • Review current status and what’s next with standards, codes, & requirements impacting the interconnection process
  • Examine distribution interconnection processes of utilities in different regions of the country and how they are managing increasing volumes of interconnection applications
  • Assess specific challenges for interconnecting Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)
    • Distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems
    • Battery storage technologies
    • “Hybrid” solar + storage projects
    • Microgrids
    • Electric Vehicles (EVs)
  • Identify opportunities and developments for enhanced “hybrid” (i.e., solar + storage) interconnections
  • Identify advanced modeling tools and techniques by energy industry experts leading the way in distributed energy resource (DER) and storage interconnection
  • Review key issues that cause delays in utility interconnection timelines, and solutions for expediting scheduling without sacrificing safety and reliability



EUCI is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and offers IACET CEUs for its learning events that comply with the ANSI/IACET Continuing Education and Training Standard. IACET is recognized internationally as a standard development organization and accrediting body that promotes quality of continuing education and training.

EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 0.6 CEUs for this event.



Monday, June 22, 2020 – Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. :: Log in and Sign On (Microsoft Teams)

9:00 – 9:15 a.m. :: Welcome & Introduction

9:15 – 9:45 a.m. :: Introduction to Distribution Interconnection: Today’s Dynamic Landscape

  • The changing landscape of grid interconnection
  • What renewable and technology projects are trending in the distribution queue?
  • Distribution-level interconnections vs. Transmission-level interconnections
  • What new challenges are utilities facing with distribution interconnection, and what are the emerging solutions?

9:45 – 10:30 a.m. :: Interconnection Guidelines, Standards, Updates  What’s Next

  • IEEE Introduction
  • Evolution of the IEEE 1547 Standard – 2003, 2014 amendment, 2018 revision
    • Key differences
    • 2018 highlights – Performance categories, communications, AGIR, grid support functions
  • Overview of standard interconnection process for distribution grid
  • Current adoption of IEEE 1547-2018
      • Minnesota
      • California
      • Maryland
      • NARUC Resolution
    • IEEE 1547 Education and Credentialing Program
      • Addressing the needs of utilities and the growing gap of 1547 competent resources
      • Utility driven
    • Approval of IEEE 1547.1 verification standard
      • What does approval of the standard mean for the industry?
    • IEEE P2800 Standard – The IEEE 1547 for Transmission level interconnection
  • 10:30 – 10:45 a.m. :: Morning Break

10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Streamlining the Interconnection Process for Small Generation Solar & Storage Projects

  • Project development case studies
    • Rooftop PV solar
    • Battery storage
    • Hybrid “solar + storage”
  • Interconnection case studies and generator experiences in different regions and states
  • Developer recommendations for interconnection studies to properly reflect the technical properties and capabilities of storage + solar hybrid projects
  • Tips for lining up the timing of PPA procurement and interconnection processes

12:00 – 12:45 p.m. :: Break for Lunch

12:45 –  3:15 p.m. :: Optimizing Interconnections to the Distribution Grid – Solar PV, Storage, Hybrid Projects & DERs

  • Old strategies for interconnection vs. new strategies – evolving to the renewable and battery trend
  • Current status of renewable mandates and trends – considerations for interconnection
    • Meeting California 50% renewable goal by 2030
  • Optimizing technical studies for resource interconnection to the distribution grid
  • DER criteria and operations — considerations for utilities that are reaching higher DER penetration levels
  • Evaluation for interconnecting specific distributed technologies:
    • Solar PV
    • Storage
    • Solar + Storage
    • Microgrids
    • Electric vehicles (EVs)
  • Grid connected storage:
    • Front of the meter vs. behind the meter
    • Benefits and challenges
    • Improving the processes and standards for energy storage interconnection
    • Optimizing grid-connected battery storage to enhance renewable energy performance
    • Interactions between net metering and storage systems
    • Compensation for providing ancillary services
  • Hybrid project interconnection
    • Managing solar + storage interconnections
  • Harnessing smart inverters
  • Inverter considerations
    • Communication and control
    • Low voltage ride-through
    • Short circuit duty contribution and ground grid impacts from clusters of inverter projects

Managing Increasing Volumes of Interconnection Applications: Customer Education, Organizational Development & Forecasting

  • Considerations for developing an “ideal” utility interconnection department
  • Customer education and engagement on interconnection
    • Educating customers and vendors on interconnection requirements
    • Tools for working with customers and vendors to interconnect rooftop PV
    • Tools for working with vendors to interconnect community solar
    • Internal education to improve the interconnection process
  • Forecasting application volumes in the interconnection queue — best practices and considerations

3:15 – 3:30 p.m. :: Afternoon Break

3:30 – 4:30 p.m. :: Utility Panel – Moving Forward with Interconnection in the Era of COVID-19

  • Addressing problems and inefficiencies in the interconnection process
  • Removing barriers to renewable energy, storage and DER integration
  • Smarter ways to provide grid connections for renewable and storage project developers
  • Changes and updates to current practices that would enable:
    • schedule certainty
    • cost certainty
    • considerations for overall system reliability planning
  • Planning and preparing a workforce in the era of COVID-19 – safe management practices
  • Preparing for customer financing challenges that impact proposed/developed projects
  • Dealing with new regulations on construction for social distancing – who can construct?
  • Virtual inspection opportunities


Nathan Smith/ Senior Advisor – Grid Interconnection & Contract Development/Southern California Edison

Nathan Smith is responsible for managing a portfolio of interconnection requests and the origination of the related interconnection agreements with Southern California Edison (SCE). In this role he ensures the organization’s provision of interconnection service and distribution service for both generation and load projects are performed in compliance with Federal and State tariffs.  Smith joined SCE in 1996 and has held positions including NERC Compliance Project Manager, Generation Planning and Strategy Manager, and the Navy Customer Account Manager.

As a NERC Compliance Project Manager, he managed twelve Critical Infrastructure Protection and Operations and Planning Audits for three registered entities. Prior to that, he led the siting efforts of five peaker units for SCE’s Generation Planning and Strategy Department. One of his first jobs with SCE was in the Customer Service Department leading the delivery of energy efficiency programs and services to the United States Navy and Marine Corps bases within SCE’s service territory. Before to joining SCE, Smith worked for Enron Capital and Trade selling fixed price and indexed natural gas contracts in Southern California.

Brian Cuffle/ Supervisor – Distribution Design/ Ameren Illinois

Brian Cuffle is a Supervisor of Distribution Design at Ameren Illinois.  In April 1, 2008, he was assigned the position of the “Single Point Of Contact” for all interconnection customers and the Net Metering Coordinator for Ameren Illinois. Brian now manages a larger interconnection team, and is in charge of the DER (Distributed Energy Resources) group for Ameren Illinois.  Mr. Cuffle started at Ameren in 1992 in the Customer Accounting Department.

David South/ Senior Principal – Engergy & Utilities, West Monroe Partners

David South is a Senior Principal in the Energy & Utilities Practice at West Monroe Partners and leads its Sustainability practice.  He has more than 40 years of market, strategic, policy, technology and regulatory experience in the energy/utility industries. In the recent past he has focused on assessing DER and EEDM technologies, markets and programs, developed go-to-market strategies, built pro-forma models and benefit/cost tools, devised innovative rates and mechanisms, and monetized externalities.  David also has considerable experience with DERMS, non-wire/non-transmission solutions, grid modernization, microgrids, interconnection/hosting capacity, Benefit/Cost Analysis, Business Case Analysis, and environmental sustainability.  Prior to joining West Monroe in 2013, David worked for several other consulting practices, including his own–Technology & Market Solutions—an air pollution control vendor, an electric utility, the US Department of Energy, and a government energy research laboratory.

James Mirabile/ Principle Engineer/ Baltimore Gas & Electric (Exelon)

Jim Mirabile has been with Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BG&E) for 34 years, and has held various technical and leadership positions.  He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Maryland.  James currently serves as the Principal Engineer in BG&E’s interconnection business office.  He is the single point of contact for all interconnection projects over 250 kW.  He is an active member of Maryland’s interconnection workgroup – the regulatory process that is transforming Maryland’s electric distribution system. 

Jason Allnutt/ Program Specialist/ IEEE Standards Association

Jason Allnutt is the Program Specialist for the IEEE-SA Conformity Assessment Program (ICAP).  His current responsibilities include the oversight of the IEEE Phasor Measurement Unit Certification Program, IEEE 1547 Education and Credentialing Program as well as other power and energy related activities. As a technical lead at IEEE, Jason is actively engaged in multiple technology fields within the organization.

Prior to IEEE, Jason worked at a Nationally Recognized Test Lab as an electromagnetic compatibility test engineer. He also was responsible for approving applications of intentional radios for FCC Certification as part of the Telecommunication Certification Body program.

Online Delivery

Our courses are designed to be the best possible use of your valuable time – get the information you need to improve your position in the market in an interactive, dynamic format.

We will be using Microsoft Teams to facilitate your participation in the upcoming event. You do not need to have an existing Teams account in order to participate in the broadcast – the course will play in your browser and you will have the option of using a microphone to speak with the room and ask questions, or type any questions in via the chat window and our on-site representative will relay your question to the instructor.

  • You will receive a meeting invitation will include a link to join the meeting.
  • Separate meeting invitations will be sent for the morning and afternoon sessions of the course.
    • You will need to join the appropriate meeting at the appropriate time.
  • If you are using a microphone, please ensure that it is muted until such time as you need to ask a question.
  • The remote meeting connection will be open approximately 30 minutes before the start of the course. We encourage you to connect as early as possible in case you experience any unforeseen problems.


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