Originally published on Clean Power Research.
By Scott Tewel
NV Energy’s incentive and interconnection application volumes have grown tremendously in the past 12 months—by 15 times. As many program administrators know, this type of rapid growth can overwhelm the administrative staff, leading to processing delays and unhappy customers.
In order to handle the increased workload, NV Energy took their interconnection processing online using PowerClerk®. As a result, NV Energy was able to reduce the amount of time spent processing interconnection applications by 63%, and shorten the time to complete applications by as much as three weeks.
Prior to the launch of its step-down incentive program in August 2014, NV Energy ran a once-annual lottery for incentives, and processed fewer than 2,000 incentive and interconnection applications per year. After the launch of the new step-down program, that volume rose to more than 2,500 applications per month before the current net metering cap of 235 MW was reached in August. That growth was fueled, in part, by healthy incentive rates and the arrival of large installers, including SolarCity.
A study led by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) this spring found that by using PowerClerk, NV Energy reduced the end-to-end processing time for interconnection applications by 63%. Two key steps in the process that previously took a week (or more) now take only a day (or less):
- Application re-works by applicants.
- Filling-out and signing interconnection agreements.
How NV Energy streamlined interconnection processing
To reduce the time and labor required to process interconnection applications, NV Energy has taken advantage of PowerClerk’s flexible workflow and built-in automation to:
- Automatically notify applicants if a project needs updates.
- Allow applicants to make changes and resubmit immediately online.
- Automatically generate and route applications and agreements for electronic signatures, avoiding the time that would otherwise be spent physically mailing documents for signatures.
Automatic communications are particularly valuable for NV Energy administrators, as notifications are automatically emailed to applicants when statuses change, keeping customers up-to-date. Customers also have the option to check the status of their application by logging into their PowerClerk account. As a result, NV Energy fields far fewer calls from customers and installers asking about the status of their applications.
Because all information is available online, more administrative team members are able to help in the process, and employees in other departments can see application statuses. Online processing also makes it possible to accurately track application volumes—no more guessing based on inches of paper on administrators’ desks.
A longer term benefit of using PowerClerk is the efficient collection of detailed site data. With this data, NV Energy can do precise modeling and forecasting for better integration of its distributed solar fleet.
Efficiently meeting future demand
As solar sales continue to swell in 2015 and into 2016, PowerClerk customers such as NV Energy are well-equipped to handle increased volumes of incentive, interconnection and tax credit applications. With the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) requirement that systems be installed by the end of 2016, application volume will continue strong through the foreseeable future. Systems such as PowerClerk offer a lifeboat that keeps program administrators from drowning in the chaos of paper-based programs, and helps to lower interconnection costs.
Reprinted with permission.