FERC, Idaho resolve lawsuit over PURPA-related wind contracts

There’s nothing like resolving some litigation in time for the holidays.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Idaho Public Utilities Commission said Dec. 24 that that they had reached a memorandum of agreement to resolve court claims over “interpretation and enforcement” of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA).

The case involved several PURPA-related wind contracts in Idaho. Under the agreement, the Idaho PUC acknowledges that a legally enforceable obligation may be incurred prior to the signing of a contract. The agreement reflects that PURPA establishes a program of cooperative federalism, with FERC establishing regulations and states implementing them in a manner that accommodates local conditions. FERC will withdraw its complaint filed against the Idaho PUC, and the PUC will withdraw any of its pending claims.

“This agreement will allow FERC and Idaho to focus on our continued cooperation in implementing PURPA, and to use our resources there rather than litigating points in court,” Acting FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur said.

“The Idaho Commission is gratified with this outcome,” said Idaho Commission President Paul Kjellander. “With this matter behind us, we would hope that we can work with FERC more closely in the spirit of cooperative federalism.”

In March FERC had filed a complaint against the Idaho PUC in the U.S. District Court for Idaho alleging that certain PUC actions and policies violated PURPA standards.

Under the agreement FERC and the PUC agree to submit a joint stipulation for voluntary dismissal to the federal court in Idaho.

“This is great news for Idaho, the States, and our relationship with our federal colleagues,” said National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) President Colette D. Honorable of Arkansas in a Dec. 26 statement.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.