On December 3, 2019, NRECA filed comments at FERC supporting FERC's proposed rulemaking to revise its regulations implementing sections 201 and 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). See Qualifying Facility Rates and Requirements; Implementation Issues Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, Docket No. RM19-15-000, 168 FERC ¶ 61,184 (2019) (notice of proposed rulemaking).
The NRECA comments acknowledge the significant changes in the electric industry and electric markets since 1978 and support FERC's proposals to reform and modernize its PURPA regulations to account for these changes and to address other implementation issues that have arisen in recent years.
Specifically, the NRECA comments support FERC's proposals:
- To allow states and nonregulated electric utilities such as rural electric cooperatives flexibility to incorporate market forces in setting "avoided cost" rates for PURPA qualifying facilities (QFs);
- To relieve electric utilities from the PURPA obligation to purchase energy and/or capacity from QFs to the extent the utility's supply obligations are reduced by a state retail-choice program;
- To reform the "one-mile rule" used to determine whether facilities constitute a single QF or multiple QFs;
- To reduce, from 20 megawatts to 1 megawatt, the QF size threshold at which a QF in an RTO or ISO region is rebuttably presumed to have non-discriminatory access to a wholesale market, which relieves an electric utility of its QF purchase obligation;
- To require a proposed QF to demonstrate that it is "commercially viable" and has " financial commitment to construct the proposed project pursuant to objective, reasonable, state-determined criteria," before the QF may claim a "legally enforceable obligation" for an electric utility to purchase its output; and
- To reform the QF self-certification process by allowing parties to contest the QF certification without filing a costly petition for declaratory order at FERC.