On June 5, 2019, FERC revoked the self-certification for qualifying facility (“QF”) status of Eco Green Generation LLC’s (“Eco Green”) hybrid power generation facility (the “Facility”) located in and around Fairbanks, Alaska.  In doing so, FERC found that the Facility—which consists of a wind farm and twenty duel-fueled renewable diesel and propane engines intended to firm the energy generated by the wind farm—does not meet the criteria for a small power production QF or a cogeneration QF.
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On April 18, 2019, FERC granted Sunrun, Inc.’s petition for declaratory order and request for waiver of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”) Qualified Facility (“QF”) certification requirements for certain of its residential solar photovoltaic (“PV”) systems.  Specifically, FERC granted Sunrun limited waivers of: (1) the QF certification requirement for Sunrun-financed residential rooftop solar PV systems under 20 kW where such systems, though separately interconnected, may aggregate to over 1 MW within a one-mile radius; and (2) the requirement in Item 8a of the QF self-certification Form No. 556 to identify related PV systems of 20 kW or less located within a one mile radius.  FERC’s order noted its intention to ease administrative burdens on both Sunrun and itself, and affirmed that certain certification filing exemptions available to QFs under 1 MW can persist as Sunrun expands and its financed PV systems aggregate to over 1 MW within a one-mile radius.
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On March 6, 2019, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) declined to reconsider an earlier order refusing to enforce a newly-enacted mandatory biomass power purchase obligation, and associated subsidy scheme. Although the New Hampshire PUC ruled narrowly in both decisions, the law subsidizing state biomass generators at above-market rates is the latest in a series of recent state actions pushing the jurisdictional line between FERC and state authority (see, e.g., April 27, 2016 edition of the WER; September 25, 2018 edition of the WER; October 3, 2018 edition of the WER).  As of this writing, challenges to the law remain pending at FERC.
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On July 9, 2018, FERC denied Cloverland Electric Cooperative’s (“Cloverland”) application to terminate its mandatory obligation under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) to purchase electric energy and capacity from qualifying cogeneration or small power production facilities (“QF”) with a net capacity in excess of 20 megawatts.  In denying the request, FERC emphasized that direct membership in regional transmission organizations or independent system operators is necessary to meet the exemption Cloverland requested under PURPA.
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On June 28, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (“Second Circuit”) affirmed a district court’s dismissal of challenges to Connecticut’s renewable energy solicitation program and Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) law.  The Second Circuit rejected arguments from the plaintiff-appellant, Allco Finance Limited (“Allco”), that the solicitation program was preempted by the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) and that the RPS law unduly burdens interstate commerce, in violation of the “dormant commerce clause.”
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On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) dismissed Portland General Electric Company’s (“PGE”) and PáTu Wind Farm LLC’s (“PáTu”) petitions for review of FERC’s orders finding that PGE must purchase all of the power delivered by PáTu pursuant to their power purchase agreement (“PPA”) under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”), but that PGE was not required to use dynamic scheduling.  In doing so, the D.C. Circuit held, among other things, that: (1) it lacked jurisdiction to review FERC’s resolution of PGE and PáTu’s PURPA dispute because the orders were merely declaratory; (2) circuit court review of PURPA section 210(h) enforcement actions occurs on appeal from district courts; and (3) FERC’s Federal Power Act (“FPA”)-based regulations cited to by PáTu in support of its claim that FERC should require PGE to use dynamic scheduling only apply to the transmission customer-transmission provider relationship, which was unlike PáTu and PGE’s relationship.
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On March 10, 2017, FERC Secretary Kimberly D. Bose (“Secretary Bose”) issued a notice that East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc.’s (“EKPC”) application to terminate its requirement pursuant to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) to purchase electricity from qualifying facilities was deemed denied without prejudice due to FERC’s lack of quorum (see February 21, 2017 edition of the WER).
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On November 1, 2016, FERC dismissed a complaint filed by the Vote Solar Initiative and the Montana Environmental Information Center (collectively, “Vote Solar”) against the Montana Public Service Commission (“Montana Commission”) alleging that the Montana Commission violated section 210 of the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) by suspending NorthWestern Energy’s (“NorthWestern”) obligation to adhere to a standard rate for solar qualifying facilities (“QFs”) with a nameplate capacity between 100 kW and 3 MW. FERC dismissed the complaint on the grounds that: (i) it does not have jurisdiction to order the Montana Commission to take or not take particular actions; and (ii) Vote Solar is neither a QF nor an electric utility, and therefore is not permitted to file a petition for enforcement pursuant to section 210 of PURPA.
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On July 21, 2016, FERC issued a declaratory order related to a qualifying facility’s (“QF”) right to sell its capacity and energy pursuant to a legally enforceable obligation under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”). Specifically, FERC held that: (1) regardless of whether a QF has previously sold its renewable energy credits (“RECs”) under a separate contract, a QF has the right to sell its output pursuant to a legally enforceable obligation (“LEO”), and (2) regardless of whether a QF has participated in a request for proposal, a QF has the right to obtain a LEO.
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On May 6, 2016, Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (“OMPA”) submitted a request to FERC seeking to take over its members’ mandatory purchase obligation under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”). OMPA is a full-requirements provider for 42 municipalities in the State of Oklahoma. OMPA submitted its request under Section 210 of PURPA.
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