IREC Vision Summit 2023

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The IREC Vision Summit is a one-day visionary exploration of what’s needed to make our nation’s bold clean energy goals a reality. The Summit brings together clean energy stakeholders for a deep dive into policies and practices that are essential for all Americans to benefit from clean energy. This year’s Vision Summit 2023 explored critical clean energy interconnection issues and elevate key solutions. Viewers will gain practical skills to support effective distribution interconnection reform in the U.S.

The interconnection of distributed energy resources (DERs), like solar and energy storage, is a foundational element of the transition to a 100% clean, equitable, and resilient energy future. While significant barriers to interconnection on the distribution grid persist across the U.S., many innovative solutions are being developed and deployed, from improved screening and study processes, to fairer grid upgrade cost allocation methods. Well-designed interconnection policies can enable more equitable access to sustainable energy, as well as the development of critical resilience tools like microgrids, that help communities weather and recover from natural disasters.

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Keynote-Pathway to the Future: Interconnecting Distributed Energy Resources for Rapid Decarbonization
Recorded 11/09/2023
Recorded 11/09/2023 A growing number of states are adopting aggressive climate, energy equity, and clean energy goals, with targets starting in 2030—and some even earlier. Distributed energy resources (DERs)—including solar, storage, microgrids, building and transportation electrification, and other resources—are a foundational element of achieving rapid decarbonization, but deploying DERs reliably, equitably, and cost-efficiently requires interconnection procedures that are designed to minimize delays and costs. Recent studies show that achieving climate and clean energy targets with utility-scale clean energy resources alone will require enormous infrastructure investments, and that adding DERs to the mix can potentially save hundreds of billions of dollars and support a much more equitable and rapid transition. This is especially urgent as federal policies, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and FERC’s Order 2222, are opening new opportunities to DER growth. This panel explores key near-term challenges and solutions to implementing well-designed DER interconnection policies that ensure continued safe and reliable grid operation and enable rapid and cost-effective DER adoption. Speakers: Lorraine Akiba, JD | Moderator, LHA Ventures Ammar Qusaibaty | U.S. Department of Energy David Gahl | Solar & Storage Industries Institute Utopia Hill | Reactivate Commissioner Rory Christian | New York State Public Service Commission Mark Esguerra, P.E. | Southern California Edison
Breaking Down Grid Barriers: Innovative Solutions to Streamline Interconnection
Recorded 11/09/2023
Recorded 11/09/2023 The transition to a clean, equitable, affordable, and resilient energy future isn’t happening in a vacuum. Incentives for community solar, solar-plus-storage, and other resources have to be viewed side-by-side with other enabling policies, especially DER interconnection. Even the best-designed incentive programs can fail when projects linger in queues for months, have to resubmit applications and lose valuable time (and potentially financing) when design modifications are necessary, or face prohibitively high grid upgrade costs. This panel discusses solutions to some of the major barriers facing interconnection today, with a focus on currently available and near-term actions that regulators, utilities, DER stakeholders, and others can move to adopt in their jurisdictions. Speakers: Radina Valova | Moderator, IREC Pearl Donohoo-Vallett | Pepco Holdings Samantha Weaver | Coalition for Community Solar Access Sky Stanfield | Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP Brad Klein | Environmental Law & Policy Center Julieta Giraldez | Kevala
Fireside Chat with Ben Passer, McKnight Foundation Senior Program Officer, Midwest Climate and Energy
Open to view video.
Open to view video. Fireside Chat with Ben Passer, McKnight Foundation Senior Program Officer, Midwest Climate and Energy Moderator: Polly Shaw | Plus Power
Centering Energy Equity Within Interconnection Policies
Recorded 11/09/2023
Recorded 11/09/2023 Discussions of interconnection policy development are often far removed from energy equity and justice, but interconnection has a direct impact on equitable access to sustainable energy. Costly grid upgrade fees can exacerbate existing barriers to energy equity, such as by making community solar projects prohibitively expensive to finance. Interconnection queue timeline delays can lead to projects losing available financial incentives. And business-as-usual grid maintenance and operation may leave communities with less reliable electric systems that necessitate more costly grid upgrades to accommodate DERs. Conversely, well-designed interconnection policy can enable equitable access to sustainable energy. This panel discusses the challenges and emerging solutions in this growing field of practice. Speakers: Shay Banton | Moderator, IREC Stephen Mariani | Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Katie Kienbaum | Institute for Local Self-Reliance Adrian Davis | Prime Partners Engineering Nathan Phelps | Vote Solar
Keeping the Lights On: Grid Resilience Through Microgrids
Recorded 11/09/2023
Recorded 11/09/2023 As natural disasters grow in frequency and severity, microgrids have emerged as leading solutions to helping communities weather and recover. Microgrids can play a key role in supporting energy affordability, resilience, and reliability. But many challenges to microgrid development remain, particularly for microgrids that span rights-of-way and involve multiple points of interconnection, including the lack of approved technical standards and hurdles throughout the interconnection process. This panel examines the current barriers to multi-customer microgrid interconnection, highlight innovative projects being deployed in Puerto Rico, and walk through emerging regulatory and technical solutions for interconnection. Speakers: Brian Lydic | Moderator, IREC Ben Passer | McKnight Foundation Carlos Alberto Velázquez López | IREC Dustin Jolley | OurEnergy Mahmoud Kabalan, PhD, PE | University of St. Thomas Weston Dengler | Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)