[ exact phrase in "" • results by date ]

[ Google-powered • results by relevance ]


News Home

Subscribe to RSS feed

Add NWW headlines to your site (click here)

Sign up for daily updates

Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

Donate $10

Donate $5

Selected Documents

All Documents

Research Links


Press Releases


Publications & Products

Photos & Graphics


Allied Groups

Republicans seek FERC review of Carter-era renewables law  

Credit:  Hannah Northey, E&E reporter via www.governorswindenergycoalition.org | Posted: Friday, November 13, 2015 | ~~

Congressional Republicans called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to explore whether changes are needed to improve a law crafted in the Carter administration to boost renewables and efficiency.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, and Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power Chairman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky asked FERC to review its use of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, or PURPA.

The letter to FERC Chairman Norman Bay reflects concerns with the law that Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE) raised earlier this year as the Senate and House were crafting comprehensive energy legislation.

PURPA is aimed at bolstering renewables and efficiency by requiring utilities to buy power from “qualifying facilities,” including cogeneration plants that use steam or heat from industrial and commercial processes, as well as solar, wind, biomass, waste and other facilities that are 80 megawatts or less. FERC has overseen the treatment of qualifying facilities for decades.

But the law has long rankled utilities opposed to forced purchase of power.

Jonathan Weisgall, BHE’s vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs, told House members last summer that FERC’s “overly restrictive” interpretation of the statute had failed to keep up with the times or recognize that small generators once facing steep barriers can now reach emerging markets.

BHE’s decisions in the renewable markets are being driven by state clean energy goals, technological advances and U.S. EPA rules – not PURPA, Weisgall said.

Forcing utilities to buy millions of megawatts from smaller units at higher prices that aren’t subject to the same scrutiny is triggering higher prices and reliability issues, he said.

Weisgall also argued his company isn’t trying to repeal PURPA or hamper the spread of renewable energy but is instead trying to change costly, burdensome and unnecessary requirements for utilities, noting that one contract could force PacifiCorp’s customers to incur an incremental $1.1 billion over the next decade for unneeded power (E&E Daily, June 1).

The Republicans’ letter points to Weisgall’s testimony, questioning whether PURPA had become outdated since it was enacted – and then updated under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 – given that the cost of natural gas and renewables has dropped while EPA rules and stiff competition from gas have altered the economics for coal-fired generation.

At the same time, the lawmakers wrote, renewables have flourished under state and federal tax incentives, and distributed energy and microgrids have grown more popular.

“In light of these developments, we encourage the commission to take a comprehensive look at PURPA and its regulations implementing Section 210 through a discussion with interested stakeholders,” they wrote.

But while BHE’s argument gained traction among Republicans, the company’s push to ease utility obligations under PURPA ran into opposition from a key Democratic senator.

The Energy and Natural Resources panel’s top Democrat, Maria Cantwell of Washington, said in June that she was planning to work against BHE’s proposal. Cantwell said the proposed changes amounted to an attempt by the company to bolster its position in the Western coal markets, where it owns both rail lines and generators.

Cantwell also said she’d rather spend her time on issues like battery storage than trying to create a market that needs policing (E&E Daily, June 1).

Source:  Hannah Northey, E&E reporter via www.governorswindenergycoalition.org | Posted: Friday, November 13, 2015 |

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding
Donate $5 PayPal Donate


News Watch Home

Get the Facts Follow Wind Watch on Twitter

Wind Watch on Facebook


© National Wind Watch, Inc.
Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
"Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.