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The California Independent System Operator Corp. (CAISO) board of governors has approved interconnection rule changes intended to enable power plant developers to downsize projects in response to economic and demand issues.

The new interconnection changes will provide an annual process beginning in October 2014 for developers to submit a request to reduce the megawatt size of their projects for any reason. To offset possible effects on other developers, downsized projects will be obligated to finance the cost of any network upgrades that resulted from the original project size. Developers modifying the size of projects will have to provide a $60,000 deposit toward the costs incurred by CAISO.

"Building wind and solar generation or any type of power plant can take five to seven years, and the business climate can change significantly during that time span," says Keith Casey, CAISO's vice president of market and infrastructure development. "These enhancements to our interconnection queue enable developers to complete projects without being subjected to risks beyond their control."

Proposed projects enter the CAISO interconnection queue as part of a first step in hooking up to the high-voltage grid. CAISO engineers study the projects to determine interconnection costs and any reliability impacts. The operator says allowing flexibility in interconnection rules eliminates the threat of their interconnection agreement being terminated for failing to meet original specifications.

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