The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Wednesday partly approved ISO New England’s plan to allow aggregated distributed energy resources to participate in its power markets starting in 2026.
However, ISO-NE failed to show that its proposed metering and telemetry requirements didn’t impose an undue barrier to individual DERs joining a distributed energy resource aggregation, according to FERC’s 3-1 decision.
“ISO-NE needs to roll up its sleeves and pursue steps that genuinely open its markets to behind-the-meter DERs when it makes its next compliance filing,” FERC Commissioner Allison Clements said Thursday on Twitter.
In a landmark decision, FERC in September 2020 ordered regional transmission organizations and independent system operators to remove barriers keeping DER aggregations from participating in wholesale markets. The aggregations could include resources like rooftop solar, energy storage and electric vehicle chargers.
Since then, grid operators have been developing plans to meet the requirements FERC laid out in its Order 2222.
FERC approved many elements of ISO-NE’s proposal, but directed the grid operator to revise its plan in several areas such as its small utility opt-in requirements, capacity market participation, and information and data requirements.
FERC noted that Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., filed comments saying they feared ISO-NE failed to remove barriers for behind-the-meter DERs from market participation.
Clements echoed those concerns. “In reading ISO New England’s filings in this proceeding, one comes away with the impression that developing a workable participation framework for behind-the-meter DER is nearly impossible,” she said.
Other regions have found a way to guard against double counting without blocking behind-the-meter DERs’ ability to participate though submetering requirements, Clements said.
ISO-NE is at an inflection point, according to Clements.
“Will it roll up its sleeves and pursue a problem-solving approach to integrating behind-the-meter resources, as other RTOs have done?” Clements said.
To address New England’s “ immediate and dangerous” reliability threat, ISO-NE and its member states need to put every possible supply and demand resource type on the table and work together to remove all barriers to market participation, Clements said.
FERC Commissioner Mark Christie voted against the decision, partly because it rejects ISO-NE’s “entirely reasonable and commendable efforts” to ensure that measurement and verification procedures are as accurate as possible to prevent overpayments by double counting resources.
“We should be encouraging RTOs to adopt rigorous M&V measures, not undercutting them when they try to do so,” he said.
Christie said if he had been a FERC commissioner at the time, he would have voted against Order 2222, which will have “enormous” costs, partly driven by grid upgrades needed to implement it.
FERC’s majority wants more than just information in ISO-NE’s response to the decision, according to Christie.
“Rather than an explanation from ISO-NE, it appears that the majority hopes the ISO will return with a completely different proposal on metering,” he said.