Ecoplexus argues QF obligation issues at North Carolina commission

Several project affiliates of Ecoplexus filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission on May 29 arguments in their complaint against Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion North Carolina Power (DNCP) related to just when legally enforceable obligations (LEOs) were established for their planned solar facilities.

Fresh Air Energy XXV LLC, Fresh Air Energy XXXIII LLC, Fresh Air Energy XIX LLC, Fresh Air Energy II LLC and Fresh Air Energy XXVII LLC (collectively called the “Solar QFs”) and Ecoplexus, filed their initial brief in this case on May 29. The Solar QFs are developers of solar photovoltaic (PV) generating facilities in various locations in North Carolina. The Solar QFs are affiliates of Ecoplexus, which has a principal place of business located in San Francisco, California.

On April 10, the Solar QFs and Ecoplexus filed this complaint. Each of the Solar QFs is a qualifying facility (QF) for the purposes of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA”. As section 210 of PURPA requires electric utilities, such as DNCP, to offer to purchase electric energy from QFs, DNCP is obligated to purchase the energy and capacity of each of the Solar QFs, the brief said.

Their projects are:

  • Fresh Air Energy XXV, Vaughn’s Creek project, 19.99 MW;
  • Fresh Air Energy XXXIII, Grandy project, 19.99 MW;
  • Fresh Air Energy XIX, American Legion project, 16.50 MW;
  • Fresh Air Energy II, Turkey Creek project, 13.50 MW; and
  • Fresh Air Energy XXXVII, Pleasant Hill project, 12.0 MW.

DNCP takes the position that certification of a QF under PURPA is a pre-requisite to the establishment of a LEO. The Solar QFs said the commission must reject this position.

DNCP also takes the position that the LEO for each Solar QF was created no earlier than Feb. 26, 2015, which is the date on which Ecoplexus representative Erik Stuebe sent an email to DNCP’s Power Contracts Department to request power purchase agreements. The commission must reject this position since other filings made in prior months established LEOs for each of the projects, the companies said.

Ecoplexus said the LEO obligations should be invoked related to the commission’s certificate of public need and necessity (CPCN) process for each project, which happened for these projects in mid to late 2014. “The Commission must reject DNCP’s request to establish a new standard and to apply that standard retroactively. Instead, the Commission must engage in a fact specific inquiry, as it has done in the past, and conclude that the Solar QFs had, by the dates on which the CPCNs were issued, taken all necessary actions to be ready, willing and able to sell to the utility thereby establishing LEOs.”

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.