If you’re a solar power operator navigating the new North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) requirements, you may not have heard of GADS. This reporting and data collection arm of NERC will become relevant to solar operators due to upcoming changes in reporting requirements.
As it stands, in October 2023, solar power operators can begin voluntary reporting with GADS, which is something we recommend. This is a great opportunity to go through the process and acquire feedback before it becomes mandatory for sites over 100 MW in January 2024 and for sites over 20 MW in January 2025.
What Is GADS?
GADS is short for “Generating Availability Data System,” but this reporting system didn’t always exist. It wasn’t until 1982 that NERC started GADS reporting, among other types of reporting. Currently, there is information on thousands of generators in the GADS database, allowing NERC to identify widespread trends and issues that may be negatively impacting the grid.
GADS is important because an individual generator may not be able to see that there is a holistic problem because they are only concerned with what is happening in their particular facility, but an organization (NERC) that collects and analyzes data will be able to identify these issues and challenges. The first step to correcting or preventing any issue is to identify the problem.
Having a Plan for GADS Reporting
GADS reporting is currently voluntary for solar generators, but that will change soon. For most solar generators, GADS will require quarterly reporting, with reports due 45 days after the end of a quarter. If you don’t have a plan for these reports, it’s time to put one together. We recommend that solar generators consider three crucial factors.
1. Data Collection
The first challenge is data collection. How will you collect the data for the reporting? Is it being collected manually or automatically? Who will collect the data?
GADS will require you to collect three types of data: design, performance, and event data. Design data is basic information about the site, such as plant information, inverter group, and energy storage, if applicable. Other information includes location, elevation, the nearest city, the ownership structure of the site, equipment manufacturers, and model numbers.
GADS collects a wide range of data from the performance of the site such as gross power generation, maximum capacity, active solar inverter hours, forced outages, and more. When there is a reduction in plant output below a certain level or an outage, GADS will ask generators to report on those specific events. GADS will want a significant amount of data on events, whether they are outages or derates, to better understand and improve the industry.
2. Data Validation
How are you validating the data? Is someone going through the data before it is reported? You can have various checks in place to make sure you are reporting quality data. There will be eyes on what you report and regulatory scrutiny to ensure you are reporting the correct data, so validating your data must be an integral part of the process.
Data validation provides cleanness, accuracy, and completeness to a dataset by eliminating errors and ensuring the information isn’t corrupted. Without it, a service like GADS might rely on insufficient data to make conclusions about the grid. For example, data outside certain ranges should produce red flags, and some data can be checked against historical records for validation.
3. Report Generation
Will you generate the required GADS reports in-house or use a service to help with reporting? This will involve pulling significant data and creating reports in the required format.
One challenge for many facilities is that the reporting can be incredibly dynamic, meaning there is data that businesses aren’t accustomed to pulling. For example, there may be aspects of your operation that you aren’t paying attention to presenting, but you’ll have to find a way to isolate that data and put it into a report in the correct format.
While regular reports are something your facility can anticipate and plan for, what about event reports? When an event occurs, such as an outage, it may require separate and timely reporting.
How GADS Ties Into the Upcoming Threshold Changes
GADS reporting is separate from the upcoming NERC applicable threshold changes. The NERC rules ensure that elements of the Bulk Electric System operate in a way that is safe and reliable for all that use it. GADS is an arm of the NERC organization that began collecting data across all of the elements of the electric grid to improve the system for power generators and those that rely on them.
Wind was added to GADS about five years ago. Now, solar is being added to GADS, so all solar facilities with a total installed capacity of 20 MW and above will have to report to GADS. The first group that will need to report to GADS is any facility that has a total installed capacity of 100 MW and above for 2024. In 2025, the next group that needs to report to GADS will be any facility that is 20 MW and above.
Radian Generation Can Help You with GADS Reporting
Whether you are subject to GADS reporting requirements or are considering voluntary reporting, the process can be confusing and overwhelming. You not only need to gather specific data but also validate it and present it in the correct format by specific deadlines.
Even if your facility is only 20 MW and won’t be subject to GADS reporting until 2025, that deadline will be here soon. It makes sense to start voluntary reporting as soon as possible so that you can identify and address any issues before they become serious compliance concerns.
Radian Generation specializes in helping renewable energy facilities maintain compliance with NERC and adhere to GADS reporting requirements. We will review your specific operations before developing a customized strategy that includes internal controls, reporting, documentation, and overall risk reduction. Our compliance management services include helping clients with efficient data collection and reporting, regulation interpretation, error avoidance, proactive problem-solving, and resource optimization. If you want to learn more about GADS reporting, you can listen to episode 4 of our podcast, Navigating the Grid.