Category Archives: News

FERC Reaffirms High Bar for Terminating PURPA Purchase Obligation for QFs under 20 MW

On October 17, 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) ruled on an application from PPL Electric Utilities Corp. to relieve the utility of its mandatory purchase obligation, under Section 210(m) of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”), with respect to IPS Power Engineer Inc.’s qualifying facility (“QF”). IPS Power’s QF, called the Souderton QF, is an 18.1 MW cogenerator. Because PPL Electric is in PJM Interconnection territory, FERC terminated its mandatory purchase obligation for QFs over 20 MW in 2009 under Section 210(m) of PURPA. This has been FERC’s general practice for utilities located in ISOs or RTOs, … Continue reading

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U.S. District Court upholds award of RECs from QF to utility in West Virginia

U.S. District Court, West Virginia, recently dismissed a complaint from PURPA qualifying facility (“QF”) in one of the ongoing disputes regarding ownership of renewable energy credits (“RECs”) between QFs and utilities. The West Virginia QF, Morgantown Energy Associates, was registered under Pennsylvania’s Portfolio Act and transacting RECs created by it generation under the Pennsylvania Act. But after West Virginia enacted its own portfolio act, the West Virginia Public Service Commission ruled that under the act and the QF’s preexisting power purchase agreement with a West Virginia utility, the RECs created by the QF passed to the West Virginia utility without … Continue reading

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Petition to Enforce PURPA against Montana PSC Questions Auctions and Capacity

A group of qualifying facility (QF) renewable energy developers (Hydrodynamics Inc., et al) jointly petitioned FERC on June 14, 2013 for enforcement of PURPA against the Montana Public Service Commission (Montana PSC). The QF developers contend that the Montana PSC is denying large QFs the right to enter into long-term PPAs at NorthWestern Energy’s avoided cost. According to the petitioners, QFs over 10 MW in Montana have only two paths to a PURPA contract: win a competitive auction or enter into a “short-term” rate contract. The petitioners argue that the first option is illusory because only one such auction has … Continue reading

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FERC gives notice of intent to enforce PURPA against the Idaho PUC

On Tuesday, November 20, 2012, FERC issued a Notice of Intent to Act and Declaratory Order, declaring its intent to initiate an enforcement action in federal court against the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) under Section 210(h)(2)(A) of PURPA. In doing so, FERC is challenging the IPUC’s rejection of three Firm Energy Sales Agreements between Idaho Power Company and three under-10 average MW wind qualifying facilities proposed by Murphy Flat Power, LLC (Murphy Flat). The IPUC initially rejected the agreements on June 8, 2011 because they contained avoided cost rates that the Commission changed (lowered) before the agreements were fully … Continue reading

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New Mexico utility outside RTO or ISO seeks PURPA Section 210(m) exemption.

The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) imposes a must-purchase obligation on regulated utilities to buy electric energy from qualifying facilities, as defined under the act. In 2005, Congress enacted an exception to the purchase obligation under Section 210(m) of PURPA. Section 210(m) grants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) the authority to exempt an electric utility from its must-purchase obligation if QFs in the utilities territory have “nondiscriminatory access” to at least one of the following 1) an independently administered auction based wholesale electricity market and wholesale markets for long term electricity sales; or 2) interconnection and … Continue reading

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FERC declares that RECs generated by QFs are not purchased by avoided cost payments

On April 24, 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the latest in a string of declarations on the ownership of renewable energy credits (RECs).  Morgantown Energy Assoc., 139 FERC ¶ 61,066 (2012).  The dispute arose in West Virginia where the state utility commission (Public Service Commission of West Virginia) attempted to resolve ownership of RECs between PURPA qualifying facilities (QFs) and utilities purchasing output from the QFs. After a West Virginia law imposed a renewable portfolio standard on utilities, the utilities and QFs were left to argue over who got credit for RECs from pre-existing power purchase agreements that were … Continue reading

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Senior Associate Charles von Reis admitted to practice in Idaho

On May 4, Charles von Reis, Senior Associate at Lovinger Kaufmann LLP, was sworn into the Idaho State Bar.  Charles has been a member of the Oregon State Bar since 2006.  The firm looks forward to better serving its clients in Idaho, California, Oregon, and Washington.

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Partner Ken Kaufmann to be Instructor in EUCI Course on PURPA

Ken Kaufmann, partner of Lovinger Kaufmann LLP, will be an instructor in the June 5, 2012 presentation hosted by Electric Utility Consultants, Inc. (EUCI).  The webcast “Utilizing PURPA in Today’s Deregulated Wholesale Market” is scheduled for 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.  This presentation will provide a brief history of the evolution of PURPA, describe how PURPA can help states influence the type of electric utility resources purchased by investor owned utilities, look at the benefits and risks of continued reliance on PURPA, and discuss ways PURPA might be reformed at the state level. For more information and registration, visit … Continue reading

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Supreme Court Rules Against EPA on CWA Compliance Orders

In a unanimous decision earlier this week, the Supreme Court rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) position that compliance orders issued under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) are not subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) in Sackett v. EPA. Justice Alito, in a concurring opinion, rejected EPA’s view that such orders were not immediately reviewable as a final administrative action by pointing to the practical implications of such authority: “The position taken in this case by the Federal Government—a position that the Court now squarely rejects—would have put the property rights of ordinary Americans entirely at … Continue reading

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FERC reaffirms one-mile rule for determining QF size

On March 15, 2012, FERC issued an order denying a challenge to the PURPA qualifying facility (QF) status of two large wind projects sited adjacently.  The challenger contended that the two projects should be considered one project. The two projects were developed and owned in common.  The projects shared interconnection facilities.  However, no turbines from the first project were within one mile of the other project. Petitioner argued that the projects could not be QFs because their combined capacity of 97.2 MW exceeds the 80-MW size limitation on QFs imposed by PURPA. FERC confirmed the projects’ QF status, rejecting petitoiner’s arguments and adhering to its … Continue reading

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