In the Ask an Expert series, HeatSpring instructors and industry thought leaders answer a question on the minds of the HeatSpring community. We are joined by Tim Taylor, instructor of Interconnection of Utility-Scale Solar to Distribution, Introduction to Distribution Systems, and more.

While Tim has previously recorded his answer to this question, students in Tim’s HeatSpring courses have access to meet with him live to get their burning questions answered in our new Live Meetings feature. You can find the next live meeting for each course (where applicable) at the top of the course landing page. 

In this session, Tim answers the question – what do people working in utility-scale solar projects need to know about interconnection of the plants with the utility? To check out Tim’s response, you can either watch the video or read the transcript below.

Brit: Hello everyone. I’m here with Tim Taylor. He is an instructor for multiple different courses on utility distribution and interconnection. And today he’s going to answer the question for us – what do people working in utility scale solar projects need to know about interconnection of the plants with the utility?

Tim: Yeah, thanks Brit, for the question. And with respect to interconnection for anyone working in that area, they should first have an understanding of the basics of the plant itself and the DC and how it gets converted over to AC and as well as understand some of the challenges that utilities experience when they are connecting a lot of solar PV to their systems.

So starting off with that basic knowledge of AC and DC, and then progressing through issues, such as voltage regulation issues or voltage variability or impact on overcurrent protection, and coordination of the plant with reclosing practices. There are a lot of things that both the solar PV developer needs to know about the utility and what the utility needs to know about the solar PV plants.

I’ve just developed a new eight week* course that is designed for people that are relatively new to utility-scale solar PV projects and their connection to distribution.

And over that eight weeks*, we do step through the basics of electrical power and we go through the layout and the architecture of typical utility-scale solar PV plants, before we get into the interconnection of those plants. 

Now a big part nowadays is a standard that was revised back in 2018. And that standard is called IEEE 1547. And that imposes requirements and capabilities on solar PV plants that are related to reactive power control and voltage regulation, also related to topics such as a voltage ride through and frequency ride through for very large bulk power system events. But also that standard also touches upon the interoperability of solar PV plants and how solar PV plants need to communicate information back to the utility. 

So as you can see this course starts off with the basics and then it gradually gets into more details.

It is my first course that has been credentialed by IEEE. And people are able to get CEUs or PDHs, as credentialed by IEEE. 

So IEEE, I’ve been a member of it for 37 years. And in fact, I’m a card carrying member of IEEEi, as you can see right here, it’s the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers. And it is THE organization in the industry for promoting advances in technology, such as solar PV, electrical engineering, and electronics and so on. 

So I’ve gotten this course  credentialed by IEEE, so folks are able to get 2.4 CEUs or 24 hours of professional development hours (PDHs), whichever they would like and they’ll get a nice IEEE certificate if that’s what they want. 

Brit: Excellent. And you also, I believe, have NABCEP CEUs  as well, is that correct? 

Tim: Yeah! Yes. Just like many HeatSpring courses, this course also qualifies for NABCEP credits. 

Brit: Excellent. Awesome. All the more reasons to enroll in the Interconnection class taught by Tim Taylor. Thanks so much Tim.

Tim: All right. Thanks Brit.

*Students have up to one year to complete courses on HeatSpring. The Interconnection course has 8 modules.