- California's largest utilities last month published updated Interconnection Capacity Analysis (ICA) maps, known as ICA 2.0, to better assist renewables developers in identifying ideal locations for new projects.
- The maps are a product of the Distribution Resources Plan (DRP) proceeding at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and identify points on the grid where new distributed energy resource (DER) capacity can be added without significant grid upgrades.
- The new maps will analyze the most common interconnection capacity factors at the node level on every line section of all primary distribution circuits, according to the Clean Coalition, which has advocated for streamlining the interconnection process.
California wants more renewable energy, but the interconnection process can create uncertainty, delays and additional expenses that can potentially render new resources uneconomic.
"Interconnection is often the most complex, uncertain, and time-consuming aspect of DER project development," Clean Coalition said in a statement hailing the new ICA maps, adding that it is particularly true for smaller projects, "which can easily be rendered uneconomic due to a lack of predictability."
As the electric grid becomes more efficient and clean, the value in new resources is increasingly tied to where they are located and when they can produce.
The new maps "take a huge amount of risk and uncertainty out of DER project development, which will result in more of these projects being built at lower cost," Sahm White, economics and policy analysis director at the Clean Coalition, said in a statement.
White said developers can now determine, earlier in the planning process, the ideal project size and location for new resources.
"This is critical for easily choosing the best locations for siting projects, and then for projects that are moved forward, being informed with realistic costs and timing expectations regarding interconnection," he added.
While the new ICA maps examine the distribution grid, the next iteration — ICA 3.0 — is expected to add constraints related to the transmission grid that could affect interconnection. That could include other projects being proposed for that part of the transmission grid.
Once released, Clean Coalition said the 3.0 maps will model multiple circuits and their impact on one another, and are expected to be updated in real-time, to ensure up-to-date data.