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Annex 4.3 Network Connection Procedure

The stages, procedures and costs of the connection to the grid are fundamental and there are differences for generators under the Netbilling Law versus PMGD, because due to the difference in the size of these types of projects, the stages and procedures for Netbilling projects are simpler and faster. Next, each of the steps for making the connection to the network is described for both types.

The connection procedure for a project under the Netbilling Law has 6 stages:

  • The initial stage is optional and corresponds to an information request to the distribution company mainly to know the installed capacity allowed.
  • Stage 1 corresponds to the connection request where the user must specify the main characteristics of his generation system (location, installed capacity, etc.).
  • After receiving a response to the connection request, in step 2 the user must make a statement of compliance or express a nonconformity to the SEC if applicable.
  • Stage 3 corresponds to the installation and inscription period of generation equipment in the SEC.
  • Stage 4 is the notification of connection and signing of contract with the distribution company.
  • Finally in stage 5 the connection to the distribution network takes place.

It is important to note that all forms for each of the communications with both the distribution company and the SEC are available on the website of the SEC[4], as well as the maximum deadlines for response of all parties.

Stage 0: Information Request (optional stage)
Users may request information from the distribution company regarding the Permitted Installed Capacity associated with the appropriate distribution transformer or feeder. The information must be delivered to the user within no more than 10 working days.

Stage 1: Connection Request (SC)
The user must present an SC in which it includes its identification, address where it will be installed, means of contact, installed capacity of the Generation Equipment (EG) and its main characteristics. The distribution company has 5 working days to request correction of the SC in case it has incomplete or erroneous information and the user has 5 working days to make the corrections.

The response of the SC should include the following information: location of the point of connection of the generation equipment, the property or capacity of the joint, the installed capacity allowed, the additional works and necessary adjustments for the connection together with its valuation, the execution term and mode of payment, the model of connection contract, the cost of the activities necessary to make the connection.

The distribution company has between 5 and 40 working days to respond to SC depending on the information provided by the user and if information was requested prior to the SC.

a) If the capacity of the generating equipment to be connected is less than the capacity of the joint and less than the installed capacity allowed and the SC was preceded by an information request, the term is 5 working days. If it was not preceded by an information request, the deadline is 10 working days.
b) If the capacity of the generation equipment to be connected is lower than the installed capacity allowed and the safety and configuration criteria of the distribution network are met (photovoltaic solar equipment with a capacity of less than 10 kW connected to low voltage and that said capacity added to that of other low-voltage generation plants or in the process of connection do not exceed 10% of the rated power of the transformer [5]), the term is 5 working days.
c) If the installed capacity of the equipment is greater than the installed capacity allowed or requires a change in the capacity of the joint, the term is 20 working days. If the project is located in extreme rural areas (type 2 [6]), then the deadline is extended by 10 working days (up to 30 working days).
d) For the connection of Generation Equipment in residential complexes, buildings or the like, the SC must respond in 20 working days. In case that for a real estate project new networks are required or to make modifications to the existing distribution networks the term will be of 40 working days.

Stage 2: Demonstration of conformity
The user has 20 working days to express their agreement in case the power of the generation equipment is greater than 40% of the installed capacity allowed. Otherwise, it is not necessary to carry out the declaration of conformity.

If the SC requires installations and adaptations, the user can reduce their installed capacity to an smaller or equal than allowed capacity, in which case the execution of the works will not be necessary.

If in the SC no additional works are required the user can demonstrate their conformity, which will have a validity of 6 months (extendable for 6 more months or up to 24 months if the generation equipment is not photovoltaic or wind power or if the equipment has been acquired with public funds) for the user to make the connection notification.

If it is contemplated to carry out additional works, the deadline for submitting the connection notification must be agreed with the distribution company, but it cannot exceed 5 working days the deadline indicated by the distribution company in the response to the SC.

In the event that the generation facilities are destined to joint rooms, buildings or other similar ones, whether new or extensions thereof, the manifestation of conformity will have a validity of 3 years. Likewise, in case the generation facilities are financed by public funds, the validity to present the connection notification will also be extended to 3 years.

In summary, the validity to present the Connection Notification (NC) will depend on whether additional works must be carried out, from the place of installation of the Generation Equipment (particular place or joint housing, building or similar, new or extensions) and generation technology. Table 2 presents a summary of these deadlines.

Stage 3: Installation and registration with the SEC
The installation must be carried out by electrical installers certified by the Superintendency and must be declared the commissioning to the same.

Stage 4: Connection Notification (NC) and Contract Signing
Within the validity period to present the NC indicated in Table 2, the user must submit it to the distribution company and must accompany with the following antecedents: connection contract signed by the customer, certificate of current domain of the property, identification and class of the installer, the copy of the declaration or communication of the commissioning made by the user to the Superintendency.

Stage 5: Connection Protocol
Once the NC has been delivered, the distribution company will carry out or supervise the connection of the generation equipment. The date of connection must be agreed between the parties and may not exceed 15 days from the date of delivery of the connection notification.

Figure 7 summarizes the connection and commissioning procedure for a distributed generator[7].

The connection of a PMGD requires longer deadlines and a somewhat more complex procedure for connection and may require the financing of specialized technical studies. It should be noted that if the PMGD is classified as non-significant impact, this can facilitate and streamline the process and save the cost of connection studies. Only projects of up to 1.5 MW may request to be classified as having no significant impact. Figure 8 summarizes the connection and commissioning procedure for a PMGD, without a distinction being made between NCRE and conventional. This procedure can be differentiated in the following stages:

Stage 1: Presentation of the project and information request
The Connection Point must be identified and the intention to connect to a Distribution Network must be stated. This is done through the delivery of Form N°1[8] to the distribution company with a copy to the Superintendency of Electricity and Fuels (SEC). This form should indicate the main characteristics of the PMGD, including its point of connection, the main characteristics of the modification in the connection and/or operation of the PMGD, the identification of the interested party, with address or e-mail address, the information request of the facilities of the distribution company, relevant for the design of the change in connection and/or operation of an existing PMGD.

Stage 2: Response to Presentation
Within 5 days, the distribution company must inform all interested parties about connecting or modifying the conditions previously established for the connection and/or operation of a PMGD, which have made the same communication previously.

Then within a maximum period of up to 15 days from receipt of the request, the distribution company will respond through Form N° 2 which will include technical information requerid and additionally must attach the payroll of other PMGDs in the feeder, the draft of the contract of connection and operation and the studies required indicating costs, deadlines and forms of payment.

Stage 3: Submit the Network Connection Request (SCR)
The interested party must submit Form N°3, known as the Network Connection Request (SCR) and indicates if it wishes to be evaluated as a PMGD of Non-Significant Impact (INS) [9]. It should be noted that according to the NTCO, a PMGD can be evaluated as INS, only if the surplus power is less than or equal to 1.5 MW.

The SCR must include at least the following information:

  1. Location map with boundaries of the terrain and place of the PMGD.
  2. Unilinear of the whole electric installation, with data of the equipment used.
  3. Wiring plans, with data on type, manufacturer, connection and function of each of the protections.
  4. Description of the type and manner of operation of the power machine and the generator, as well as the way of connection to the network.
  5. Project execution schedule.
  6. Protocol with the settings of the protections of the PMGD.
  7. Daily projection of the generation and injection of the PMGD.

The distributing company has a term of 10 days counted from the reception of the SCR to communicate the presentation of said request to all those interested in connecting a PMGD. Also, once the SCR has been received, the distribution company may request the interested party within 10 days, once, to complement the SCR. The interested party has 15 days to reply to this request for additional information.

Stage 4: Respond to the Network Connection Request (SCR)
Within 20 days after the submission of supplementary information, the distribution company must inform the interested party, through Form N° 4, if the PMGD whose connection is requesting produces non-significant impacts. In that case, no additional works will be required for connection or technical studies. Therefore, the distribution company must issue a Connection Criteria Report (ICC) according to the format established in Form N° 7.

Otherwise, if the PMGD has a significant impact on the network, the distribution company must indicate on Form N°4, the maximum power that the PMGD could have in order to be classified as having a non-significant impact. In turn, the distribution company must indicate the technical studies that must be carried out to evaluate the impact of the connection to the PMGD network.

Stage 5: Conducting studies (only for generators whose impacts are significant)
If the PMGD is not qualified as INS, the distribution company will indicate, through Form N°4, the technical studies that must be carried out to evaluate the impact of the connection. With this information and within 5 working days after receipt of Form N°4, the interested party must notify the distribution company if the technical studies will be carried out on their own account or by the distribution company, using Form N°5.

The technical studies to evaluate the impact of the connection of the PMGD in the distribution network will be made through an electrical model of the feeder, considering impedances and the lengths of each segment of the same. The generation means existing in the network and those foreseen to connect will be modeled, in addition to the future projects that the distribution company reports. The studies required by the distribution company cannot exceed the following [10]:

  1. Power flow study that aims to verify that after the connection of the PMGD, the voltages at the feeder nodes within the ranges of the current regulation are met, that the individual impact of the PMGD by voltage rise complies with the Standard and that the load levels in the feeder elements do not exceed 85% of the thermal capacity.
  2. Study of short circuits that aims to verify that, before the connection of the PMGD of the interested party, the breaking capacities of the interrupting equipment of the distribution feeder are not exceeded.
  3. Coordination study that will define the criteria and adjustments of the protections associated with the connection of the PMGD, together with verifying the correct coordination of the existing protection system associated with the feeder where it is connected.

In the event that the interested party has opted to carry out the technical studies on their own, these must be sent to the distribution company in the terms and stages agreed by both parties, using Form N°6A at each stage. Otherwise, if the distribution company carries out the studies, then once the final results are available, it must be communicated to the interested party through Form N°6B.

Each time the interested party has received the Form N°6B, it must respond indicating its agreement with the results and if there is interest to continue with the connection process. To do this, it will use Form N°6. In case there is disagreement on the part of the interested party, it has a term of 20 calendar days to communicate it to the distribution company with a copy to the SEC. The distribution company will have 10 days to respond to the disagreement presented.

Step 6: Study of Connection Costs
Within a maximum period of 4 months from the date of submission of the SCR, the distribution company must issue a Connection Criteria Report (ICC) that must contain the connection costs and that must be sent to the interested party with a copy to the SEC. Form N°7 will be used for this purpose.

The study of connection costs should not be made in the event that the PMGD of the interested party has been classified as having a non-significant impact.

The approval of the ICC will be done through Form N°8.

Stage 7: Additional works and commissioning
At this stage, additional works must be performed (if required). The Protocol of Commissioning through Form N°9 and the Report of Tests through Form N°10.

In cases of disconnection, withdrawal, modification or cessation of operation, it was reported through Form N° 11.