Reviving PURPA’s Purpose

by Carolyn Elefant on October 21, 2011

in FERC Order 1000, PURPA

Once an innovative driver of renewables in the US, today PURPA often receives far less mention than its cooler green incentive cousins like the feed-in tariff, Section 1603 ITC cash grants or renewable energy credits (RECs). But even almost 35 years after PURPA’s enactment, many small power renewables and CHP projects still depend on PURPA’s mandatory purchase requirement and avoided cost rates. Last year, FERC reaffirmed PURPA’s relevance when in a proceeding involving the legality of California’s feed-in tariff under the Federal Power Act and PURPA.  Ultimately, FERC held that states could rely on PURPA as a basis for a feed-in tariff and further, clarified that PURPA allows states to set technology-specific rates and include avoided environmental costs so long as they are not speculative.

FERC’s decision, the first significant ruling on PURPA in over a decade, thus offered a good time to revisit PURPA, examine current state avoided cost practices and propose changes to enable PURPA to continue to achieve its original goals. Im happy to announce the end result — an exhaustive Report REVIVING PURPA’S PURPOSE: The Limits of Existing State Avoided Cost Ratemaking Methodologies In Supporting Alternative Energy Development and A Proposed Path for Reform commissioned through the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

I’ll post more on the report later but I wanted to put it out before the week ended.  However,  for a more detailed summary of the report right now, view John Wilson’s post at CleanEnergy.org’s Footprints Blog.

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