Protect Your Profit: IEEE 1547-2018 Considerations for Bidding on Solar Projects

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In February 2020, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) officially approved the adoption of IEEE 1547-2018 across the U.S. In an attempt to achieve a more sustainable and reliable power system, IEEE 1547-2018 was created in response to the significant changes related to renewables including the increase of energy produced by distributed energy resources (DER) that is connected to the electric power system (Area EPS) and the impact of increased energy on the transmission system.

This new Standard will create significant changes to the commissioning and testing procedures of solar facilities. All states have been granted flexibility in the implementation of IEEE 1547-2018 based on the unique procedures, priorities, and needs of each state. While the earliest states will make the new Standard mandatory in October 2021, there are financial considerations that need to be incorporated into the solar project bidding process now to ensure profitability on future projects.

What is IEEE 1547-2018

The goal of IEEE 1547-2018 is to establish DER requirements that will maintain distribution and transmission reliability long-term. With distributed system safety and power quality in mind, the revised standard provides performance standards that allows flexibility for each distribution system’s local needs. Since DER technologies vary in their ability to achieve performance requirements, treating all the technologies in the same way could exclude certain types of DER from interconnection. IEEE 1547-2018 mitigates this by detailing a category framework that will create harmonized interconnection requirements and offers flexibility in performance requirements

What This Means For The Solar Industry

IEEE 1547-2018 will undoubtedly make solar commissioning and testing more complex. Historically, inverters have been given a “pass” by utilities because they did not have a great impact on the grid. As some areas started experiencing very high penetration, some solar systems caused problems for utilities which lead to operational issues on the electric grid, especially in distribution systems. IEEE 1547-2018 was created to combat high penetration and bring stability to the grid by increasing the regulations and testing requirements around solar facilities.

While the tests required will vary based the facilities themselves, here is an overview of how commissioning for solar projects will change post-IEEE 1547-2018:

  • Facilities will need to accommodate more thorough Ride-Through Requirements and Voltage Regulation Requirements. If the system includes additional control devices, it will require more scrutiny during commissioning.
  • There is an option to test complete systems for compliance rather than the individual inverter box. This allows multiple inverters and control devices to be tested at once.
  • All inverter-based systems 250KVA will have to be field tested as they are installed. Any changes made to firmware or software at a solar facility will trigger a retest.

Solar Project Bidding

While most in the solar industry will likely not think much about the small changes they need to make until closer to their state’s deadline, there is a need to start considering the cost impact of commissioning to the IEEE 1547-2018 standard. Since most projects are scoped 18-24 months in advance, the projects you are bidding on now will need to align with the commissioning and testing changes that will be required under IEEE 1547-2018. In order to maintain profitability on future projects it is important to account for all of the additional testing that will be needed to commission the project.

How Comrent Can Help

Comrent has worked closely with the stakeholders for IEEE 1547-2018 to ensure full understanding, education, and support for the solar industry. Our team of experts can help ensure all solar project bids are in line with the requirements of IEEE 1547-2018 and related test procedures. In addition to providing support materials for project and commissioning test planning, we can leverage load bank testing to provide an alternative to type testing by providing a setup that would allow field testing.

If you are ready to gain a full understanding of how IEEE 1547-2018 will affect the solar projects you are currently bidding on, contact us today.

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