Oregon PUC Resolves Interconnection Dispute

On April 29, 2022 in Docket No. UM 2164, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (the Commission or OPUC) denied the claims brought by Conifer Energy Partners, LLC against Portland General Electric Company (PGE) in a complaint disputing the cost of interconnection of its Zena Solar photovoltaic qualifying facility (QF). Zena Solar’s disputes with PGE had been ongoing since early 2018. 

Zena Solar is 2.5-megawatt community solar project based in Oregon. According to PGE’s interconnection studies, Zena Solar’s interconnection resulted in various upgrades such as recloser banks, relays, transfer trip, reverse power flow supervision, and more. Zena Solar conducted an independent System Impact Study (iSIS) and disputed the upgrades and the costs of the upgrades. Based on information provided to it at the time, Zena Solar believed alternative and more cost-effective upgrades could result in the same level of protection to PGE’s system. The Commission ultimately held that, based on the limited evidence in the record, Zena Solar had not demonstrated that PGE’s upgrades were not unreasonable or presented a viable alternative approach. The Commission did hold that PGE had not ultimately demonstrated that reverse power flow supervision was necessary to mitigate adverse system impacts caused by Zena Solar.

The Commission’s order, however, also stated that customers should have an opportunity to use the iSIS to ensure that “upgrades are reasonable, cost-effective, and justified by the system impacts caused by the customer in question.” The Commission also concluded that an iSIS must be reviewed in a non-discriminatory manner consistent with Good Utility Practice. Further, the Commission explained that utilities can only require an upgrade that “leaves customers and the system in an equivalent position relative to safety and reliability as it was prior” to an interconnection. Regarding access to data and the utility’s system information, the Commission stated “[a]ccess to information, necessary to formulate interconnection alternatives at the sole expense of the interconnection customer, should not require litigation” and encouraged “the sharing of information between interconnection customers and utilities prior to initiating litigation.”

Sanger Law, PC represented Zena Solar/Conifer Energy Partners in this proceeding.

Conifer Energy Partners is a renewable developer that develops renewable facilities in Oregon. Conifer Energy Partners is the developer of Zena Solar.




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