The State of Minnesota currently has interconnection process standards in effect to address the interconnection of distributed energy resources (DER) to the distribution grid. Under Minnesota Statute §216B.1611, cooperatives and municipals shall adopt an interconnection process that addresses the same issues as the interconnection process approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The Cooperative Minnesota Distributed Energy Resources Interconnection Process (Interconnection Process or C-MIP) applies to any DER no larger than 10-megawatt (MW) AC interconnecting to and operating in parallel with PKM Electric Cooperative, Inc.’s distribution system in Minnesota. This interconnection process document is designed to be member-centric when explaining the steps and details to interconnect DER systems to the distribution grid.
The interconnection process document is broken into five parts: Process Overview, Simplified Process, Fast Track Process, Study Process and Interconnection Agreement. For the majority of DER interconnection, only the Process Overview and the Simplified Process parts will apply. For larger and more complex DER interconnections, the Fast Track Process and the Study Process may apply.
In addition to the interconnection process documents, interconnection agreement(s) are to be executed prior to the DER system being interconnected to the distribution grid. For most DER interconnection, PKM Electric Cooperative, Inc.’s Contract for Cogeneration and Small Power Production Facilities (Uniform Contract) will be used. For DER systems that do not fall under the terms of the Uniform Contract, the C-MIP Interconnection Agreement will apply.
The process to interconnect a DER system to the distribution grid starts with the submission of an Interconnection Application. Each track has different information that is requested in the application and the non-refundable interconnection application fees will vary. Both the electric utility and the interconnecting customer have timelines that are enforced to ensure a timely application review, contract execution and interconnection commissioning.
A good starting point is the Interconnection Overview Process to determine which applications will apply for your Distributed Energy Resource (DER) system. For certified inverter based DER systems with a capacity of 20kW AC or less the Simplified Process would apply. For anything 20kW or less the Simplified Interconnection Application should be filled out and this application shall be returned to PKM with the requested material information and a non-refundable $100 application fee. Systems greater than 20 KW have a base fee and a per KW amount. Systems requiring engineering studies or changes to the distribution system may have other fees.
The key to a successful interconnection of a DER system is communication between all parties. Timely submission of the Interconnection Application prior to the purchase and installation of a DER system is strongly recommended. The Cooperative encourages members to ask questions throughout the interconnection process. Interconnecting DER system to the distribution grid is not an effortless process, but it does not need to be a problematic process either.