Wind and solar power generators wait in yearslong lines to put clean electricity on the grid, then face huge interconnection fees they can’t afford
Wind and solar power generators wait in yearslong bureaucratic lines to connect to the power grid, only to be faced with fees they can’t afford, forcing them to scramble for more money or pull out of projects completely.
This application process, called the interconnection queue, is delaying the distribution of clean power and hampering the U.S. in reaching its climate goals.
Surprise fee increases
The Oceti Sakowin Power Authority, a nonprofit governmental entity owned by seven Sioux Indian tribes, is working to build 570 megawatts of wind power generation to sell to customers in South Dakota.
“Economic development through renewable energy speaks to the very heart of Lakota culture and values – being responsible stewards of Grandmother Earth, Unci Maka,” Jonathan E. Canis, general counsel for the Oceti Sakowin Power Authority, told CNBC. “Together our tribes occupy almost 20% of the land area of South Dakota. And the experts who have been measuring our wind resources literally describe them as ‘screamin.’.”
To connect wind power generation to the electric grid and make money from the sale of that power, the Oceti Sakowin Power Authority — like every electricity generator in the U.S. — has to submit an application called an interconnection request to whichever organization is overseeing the coordination of the electric grid in that region. Sometimes it’s a regional transmission planning authority, other times a utility.