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Interconnection woes make strange bedfellows

Utilities and clean energy developers are coming together to address critical issues surrounding interconnection.
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Laurence Abcede, manager of distributed energy resources at San Diego Gas & Electric, and CJ Colavito, vice president of engineering at Standard Solar, joined Episode 23 of the Factor This! podcast to discuss their roles in developing the GridTECH Connect Forum— a new event that's bringing together utilities and developers to improve interconnection. Request to attend the inaugural event in San Diego, California on Feb. 6, 2023. Episode 23 of the Factor This! podcast will be available on all platforms on Monday, Oct. 31.

The scenario is familiar.

A developer wants to tie a new clean energy project to the grid faces seemingly exorbitant grid upgrade costs and delays. At the same time, a utility that is focused on maintaining reliability labors to adapt to a rapidly changing grid and business model.

Interconnection--the place where developers and utilities most often collide--is the boogeyman of the energy transition. And incentives to deploy clean energy under the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act don't address the problem.

The contentious relationship that has developed between utilities and developers has pushed both deeper into their own corners. That's too bad because the only way forward will be for both sides to work cooperatively, if not always collaboratively.

That's why Clarion Energy is launching the GridTECH Connect Forum— a regional event that is breaking down energy industry silos to bring together utility leaders and DER developers to improve the interconnection process.

Registration is open, but limited, for the inaugural GridTECH Connect Forum in San Diego, CA on Feb. 6, 2023. The event will focus on the issues facing the California market. Request to attend by clicking here..

The timing couldn't be more urgent. California narrowly emerged for another summer heatwave that threatened the grid. And a mandate to switch from gas-powered vehicles to electric is fast approaching, presenting its own set of challenges.

"We need to work together to evolve these new technologies and bring them forward, not just for the sake of making financials but for reliability, safety, and meeting our strict, aggressive deadlines on deploying clean technology," said Laurence Abcede, manager of distributed energy resources at San Diego Gas & Electric, and a member of the GridTECH Connect Forum advisory board. He spoke as part of the Factor This! podcast.

But it's not only technological advancements that can improve and simplify the interconnection process.

Something as simple as opening the lines of communication between utilities and developers is a "low-hanging fruit," according to CJ Colavito, vice president of engineering at national community solar developer Standard Solar.

"As a developer, and owner/operator, that's a golden opportunity because I would say communication between the developers and owner/operators is not great with the utilities," said Colavito, who also serves on the GridTECH Connect Forum advisory board. "Everybody wants to move towards this sustainable, renewable energy future. And we have to figure out better ways to interconnect and integrate."

The GridTECH Connect Forum will bring together industry leaders to discuss opportunities for collaboration on interconnection upgrades, getting ahead on vehicle-to-grid technologies, demand response, and more.

See the conference agenda here.

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