California adopts pioneering advanced inverter standards

Last month saw the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) accede to the state’s Clean Coalition’s prompting to adopt advanced inverter standards in a move that is likely to bring significant benefits to the state’s power grid and clean energy integration.

The CPUC adopted the Recommendations for Updating the Technical Requirements for Inverters in Distributed Energy Resources – a proposal that establishes new standards for advanced inverters under the Rule 21 interconnection tariff.

The decision to adopt these standards makes California the first U.S. state to do so, and the move draws inspiration from developments in Europe, where the EU has nurtured conditions for advanced inverters to be plugged seamlessly into the grid.

"Enabling the full suite of advanced inverter functionality is essential to bring high-levels of distributed generation online quickly and cost-effectively – in California and every other leading market around the world," said Clean Coalition executive director, Craig Lewis. "These new standards anticipate the needs and capabilities of the distribution grid as penetration levels of local renewable increase."

The move to update Rule 21 was championed by Californian clean energy group Clean Coalition, which has long pushed for the adoption of advanced inverters in order to bring better value and reliability of performance to the state’s grid.

California is now the first and only state to require the use of advanced inverters with distributed energy sources. Under the new obligations, proactive implementation of new standards for advanced inverters in California will help accelerate the transition towards affordable renewable energy, Clean Coalition believes.

The replacement of existing inverters is exempt from the new ruling, as are back-up power systems. CPUC and other utilities in the state will now work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to harmonize federal interconnection standards.