Commercial Solar Interconnection Explained

Commercial Solar Interconnection Explained

Everything You Need To Know About Commercial Solar Interconnection

Interconnection of commercial solar systems is a vital component in completing successful projects. It requires careful management to ensure the project remains on schedule and within budget, but luckily, your commercial solar partner, like Genie Solar, will provide guidance during the process. Interconnecting commercial solar systems can be complex, so having access to an experienced provider makes all the difference in achieving your desired outcome. Your commercial solar interconnection experts should have the extensive knowledge needed to successfully navigate this important step – helping you complete your project on time and cost-effectively.


What is Commercial Solar Interconnection

Commercial solar interconnection is the process of connecting a commercial solar system to a larger electrical grid or utility. It involves connecting the commercial solar energy system to the main power supply in order to have access to and be able to draw energy from it. Due to technology advancements and commercial solar energy solutions becoming more accessible, businesses are now able to effectively deploy commercial solar solutions to their properties, enabling them to utilize their own renewable energy and reduce their electricity bills with the help of commercial solar interconnection.


Why Interconnection is so important

Commercial solar projects have the potential to produce a significant amount of clean, emission-free electricity each year. However, in order for commercial solar projects to be financially viable and receive compensation for generated electricity, they must first undergo a process of interconnection with the electric utility. The process is intricate and depends on the property’s characteristics and local energy policies, as well as requirements such as load-side restrictions or line-side regulations. Although commercial solar interconnection can be complicated to navigate, successful completion is essential to ensure commercial solar projects receive the economic benefits they are due for their generation of clean energy.

Interconnecting solar panel systems to an electrical grid requires authorization from both the utility company and confirmation that the equipment meets certain standards. These qualifications ensure necessary voltage standards, power quality, and reliability for successful connection.


What is an Interconnection Agreement?

An Interconnection Agreement is an essential step in setting up distributed generating systems, like commercial solar systems. The agreement acts as written notice to the utility company of any plans to construct or operate systems connected to the grid. In order for the process to move forward, all the required documentation must be submitted before construction can begin and sent on to the utility for review and approval. Understanding and being compliant with Interconnection Agreements is one of the key elements that ensure smooth integration of distributed generation into existing electrical grids.


The Interconnection Process

Interconnection policies created by state-level public utility commissions serve an integral purpose in the United States energy market. These regulations provide a set framework for solar installers and utility companies to follow when managing customer requests for solar energy. In most states, individual commercial and residential customers are able to receive permission from their local utility to connect solar panels directly to the grid and receive credit for electricity generated by these panels. This process is enabled through the implementation of specific interconnection policies as regulated by state governments. To ensure a safe and reliable energy supply, solar developers must meet certain standards and guidelines established by these utility commissions. As such, these interconnection rules play a key role in sustaining the growth of renewable energy markets across the United States.


Interconnection Application

Interconnecting commercial solar projects to the grid requires an application. Filling out an interconnection application, which contains basic information such as the system size, solar PV equipment, and location, is an essential first step of this process. Estimating the appropriate electricity production from each system is also critical to ensure they are sized appropriately. For large commercial projects involving solar plus battery storage, the complexity increases even further due to the substantial impact on the electric grid caused by storing energy in batteries. Understanding and responding accurately to these extra complexities is key to achieving successful project completion. Thankfully, your commercial solar partner, like Genie Solar Energy, will lead the charge and take care of all the paper work and will navigate this application process for you.


Permission to Operate

After the solar system is installed, the utility provider must be convinced of its capacity to perform through inspections and approvals. Only then can it be granted permission to operate (PTO). During this process, an interconnection agreement is also drawn up in accordance with local laws and regulations. Ultimately, when these requirements are met, the authorization for operating and connecting to the utility grid is given. In other words, permission to operate ultimately depends on meeting certain installation, inspection, and approval demands.


– More FAQs about the Commercial Solar Interconnection Process –


How long does the Interconnection process take?

The length of the solar installation and interconnection process can vary greatly depending on the utility company involved, potential complications, and how quickly the solar contractor or developer is responding to requests. The process can be even longer when energy storage is being implemented as part of the project, since in this case the system functions both as a load and a generator. On a positive note, some jurisdictions have simplified the application process for smaller-scale solar systems, such as residential or small commercial installations. As long as all requirements are maintained throughout the installation, these projects generally benefit from faster interconnection approval processes.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s 2015 study on the subject found that the average time for a small project (10 – 50 kilowatts) to receive permission to operate was 62 days , but for larger commercial projects, the timeline can be much longer. Depending on the states, municipalities, and size, larger commercial solar interconnection applications can take anywhere from 6 to 14 months to process for approval. Thankfully, due to the increasing demand and adoption of renewable energy sources, state and federal policies are working hard to improve the interconnection process and length.


Does the Interconnection Application Process cost money?

Applying for solar interconnection can come with a few fees, depending on the state you are located in and your project’s size. The good news is that for companies like Genie Solar Energy, standard utility interconnection fees are included in the contract pricing – but it’s important to note that any additional upgrades requested by the utility will not be covered.


Do Utilities allow redlines to their agreements?

No, the agreement is a standardized form that must be accepted by the business applying for interconnection. Every utility provider is required to provide the same agreement form, and all parties must agree to those terms in order for utility interconnection. Thus, utility providers do not have the ability to redline interconnection agreements, ensuring fairness and opportunity to all businesses interested in utility connection.


How to get started?

Genie Solar Energy is here to help streamline the process of getting started with a commercial solar project. We guide you through the entire process, from interconnection, installation, and commissioning your system. Our experienced teams are on hand to answer any questions and handle every step along the way. Genie Solar Energy takes care of everything for you. Don’t wait, reach out today and get started.

Genie Energy Ltd., (NYSE: GNE, GNEPRA) is a global energy solutions company. We supply customers in the US and Europe with electricity, including electricity generated from renewable resources and with natural gas. Through Genie Solar Energy and Prism Solar, we design, construct and install commercial solar energy solutions. We provide commercial and industrial clients with energy brokerage and consultative services through our Diversegy brand.