Provisional System Planning Program Guide

The DPU created a provisional framework that allows the electric companies to file infrastructure upgrade proposals that limit the interconnection costs allocated to each distributed generation facility. This guide summarizes the provisional framework.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) is investigating how to improve distributed energy resource planning to further the Commonwealth’s progress towards achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, a distributed generation (DG) facility whose interconnection triggers an upgrade of the electric power system (EPS) must pay for the full cost of that upgrade. These upgrades can be expensive and require extensive system planning and time to construct. In D.P.U. 20-75-B, the DPU established a new, provisional framework for planning and funding essential upgrades to the EPS.

The provisional framework allows the electric distribution companies to file capital investment project (CIP) proposals with the DPU. These proposals limit the interconnection costs allocated to each DG facility. Under the provisional design, ratepayers will help fund the initial construction of these EPS upgrades. Ratepayers will be reimbursed over time from fees charged to future DG facilities that are able to interconnect due to the prior upgrades. The DPU will review each CIP on a case-by-case basis for approval, denial, or modification.

This guide summarizes the details of the provisional system planning program.  A more detailed summary is available as an attachment below.  

Additional Resources for 1. Introduction

2. Process

After the completion of a distribution and transmission (if applicable) impact study for an Affected Group Study, a Distribution Company must notify all Group Study members and the DPU of study completion (Completion Date).

A Distribution Company has 10 business days from the Completion Date to:

  • determine if any EPS upgrades identified for a Group Study will be the subject of a CIP in the Provisional Program, and

  • inform the Group Study members.

If no upgrades will be submitted in a CIP, the current DG interconnection tariff timeline applies. A Distribution Company has 40 business days from the Completion Date to file a CIP for DPU review and approval.

The Distribution Company must file each CIP in a separate docket.  The DPU may review multiple CIPs in one proceeding.

3. Eligibility criteria

A Distribution Company may submit an EPS upgrade as part of a CIP only if the Distribution Company:

  • identifies the upgrade through a distribution or transmission impact study for an Affected Group Study;
  • demonstrates that the upgrade will enable the interconnection of several DG facilities;

  • ensures that the upgrade will result in a cost to interconnecting customers of $500 per kilowatt or less;
  • shows that it will interconnect the estimated DG facilities within the proposed rate recovery period; and

  • shows that it can complete the aspects of the construction timeline within its control within 4 years from the conclusion of the DPU’s adjudicatory process.

National Grid identifies the following Group Studies:

  1. Ayer-Clinton;
  2. Barre-Athol;
  3. Gardner‑Winchendon;
  4. Millbury-Grafton;
  5. MPL-East;
  6. MPL‑Northwest;
  7. Shutesbury;
  8. Spencer-Rutland; and
  9. Webster-Southbridge-Charlton.

Eversource identifies the following Group Studies:

  1. Marion-Fairhaven;
  2. Plymouth;
  3. Cape Cod;
  4. Freetown;
  5. Dartmouth‑Westport;
  6. New Bedford; and
  7. Plainfield-Blandford 

4. CIP filing requirements

CIPs must include:

  • a description of the CIP, including:

    • expected cost,

    • equipment,

    • permitting and licensing requirements, and

    • construction timeline

  • a demonstration that the CIP meets all eligibility criteria;

  • a detailed cost allocation proposal based on the straw proposal. This includes a proposed rate recovery period for the CIP through the reconciling charge;

  • expected bill impacts;

  • a description of how the CIP will benefit ratepayers;

  • a description of how the CIP cost‑efficiently meets the Commonwealth’s clean energy policies; and

  • an explanation of how the CIP will or will not affect low-income and environmental justice populations.

5. Provisional program filings

Case number Group Study
D.P.U. 23-12 Spencer-Rutland
D.P.U. 23-09 Barre-Athol
D.P.U. 23-06

Gardner-Winchendon

D.P.U. 22-170 Monson-Palmer-Longmeadow (East)
D.P.U. 22-61 Shutesbury
D.P.U. 22-55 Cape Cod
D.P.U. 22-54 Plymouth
D.P.U. 22-53 Dartmouth‑Westport
D.P.U. 22-52 Plainfield-Blandford
D.P.U. 22-51 Freetown
D.P.U. 22-47 Marion-Fairhaven

 

6. Questions

Submit procedural questions related to the Provisional Program via the DPU's Distributed Generation Group renewable energy complaint or question form

To request to provide input in the Distribution Companies’ CIP proposal preparation process contact the Distribution Companies directly.

Image credits:  Shutterstock

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