FERC decides not to intervene in solar battle at Vermont board

Otter Creek Solar LLC, the developer of a 2-MW solar power project in Vermont, was told by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on June 27 that the commission won’t pursue a complaint against the Vermont Public Service Board.

On May 1, Otter Creek Solar filed a petition requesting that FERC initiate an enforcement action under section 210(h)(2)(A) of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) against the Vermont Public Service Board, arguing that the avoided cost rate pricing determination and mechanism in the board’s feed-in tariff program, referred to as the Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) program, violates PURPA and the Federal Power Act. Alternatively, in the event the federal commission decided not to pursue an enforcement action against the Vermont board, Otter Creek requested that FERC issue an order invalidating the Vermont SPEED program.

“Notice is hereby given that the Commission declines to initiate an enforcement action pursuant to section 210(h)(2)(A) of PURPA,” said the FERC June 27 decision. “Our decision not to initiate an enforcement action means that the Otter Creek may itself bring an enforcement action against the Vermont Commission in the appropriate court.”

Otter Creek is a 2-MW solar farm in Rutland County, Vt., that had filed a 
Form 556 self-certification as a small power production qualifying facility (QF) with FERC.

“The standard offer SPEED program is an optional program available to certain small renewable QFs,” FERC noted. “QFs also may participate in the Vermont Commission’s longstanding Rule 4.100 program. The Vermont Commission’s Rule 4.100 program is the Vermont Commission’s implementation of PURPA and Rule 4.100 has been found by the Commission to be consistent with PURPA. In Vermont, QFs thus still have the option to participate in a program that has been found consistent with PURPA. Those Vermont QFs that choose to participate in the SPEED program are agreeing to the rates that result from that program. Nothing in the Commission’s regulations limits the authority of either an electric utility or a QF to agree to rates for any purchases or terms or conditions relating to any purchases which differ from the rates or terms or conditions which would otherwise be required by the Commission’s regulations.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.