Over the last several weeks, a variety of entities have filed Petitions for Declaratory Order (PDO) or Enforcement Petitions relating to PURPA that may prove interesting to watch.
Sunrun asked FERC to make an exception for the need to self-certify (through Form 556) QFs under common ownership that total in aggregate more than 1 MW of capacity if all the QFs are located with one mile of one another, but only if such aggregation includes only QFs that are under 20 kW residential solar systems where the customer has a purchase option. (Sunrun often leases solar systems with an option to buy, thus its desire to avoid the complexities of trying to determine when the 1 MW minimum for self-certification is met.) This PDO may prove less controversial than some of the others recently filed.
Redlake Falls challenged a Minnesota PUC decision regarding what a utility’s avoided cost was at the time the legally-enforceable obligation (LEO) was formed, in a dispute that involves which rate proposed by various entities best represents avoided cost at the time the LEO was established. This is not the type of PURPA Enforcement case that FERC is likely to bring an enforcement action itself, but a request was made for a PDO, so some non-binding guidance may be issued.
The two-decade battle between the Swecker family and Midland Power Cooperative and its supplier (Central Iowa Power Cooperative) continues unabated. This case cannot been deemed controversial, as the very same PURPA arguments have now been made and rejected repeatedly by any number of venues. The most interesting issue to watch in the latest proceeding is whether Midland will finally obtain a suspension of the Sweckers’ rights to bring enforcement actions against Midland and CIPCO that raise the same avoided cost rate scheme.
Finally, in perhaps the most interesting case of the lot, NorthWestern petitioned FERC for a declaratory order determining that:
- in periods when a utility has excess generation and cannot back down its generation, the avoided cost paid by the utility for energy to QFs should be zero; and
- nothing in PURPA, including the rule against “non-discrimination” in pricing of avoided cost, permits setting a QF purchase rate above the utility’s avoided cost.