FERC grants break to Arkansas Electric on QF obligations

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 4 granted an amended version of an April 15 request from Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) filed, on behalf of itself and its seventeen electric distribution cooperative members in the Southwest Power Pool region, for relief under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA).

This relief request was from the mandatory purchase obligation to enter into new contracts or obligations to purchase energy and capacity from qualifying facilities (QFs) with a net capacity greater than 20 MW in its members’ service territories within SPP.

AECC is an electric generation and transmission cooperative relying on the transmission systems of Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) and Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. (OG&E) in SPP to service its members’ loads. AECC argued that QFs in SPP have nondiscriminatory access to transmission and interconnection services pursuant to an open access transmission tariff (OATT) that affords nondiscriminatory treatment to all customers.

AECC based this claim on the commission having previously granted OG&E and SWEPCO termination of their requirement to enter into new contracts or obligations to purchase electric energy and capacity from QFs with a net capacity in excess of 20 MW on a service territory-wide basis in SPP. The SPP also has an Integrated Marketplace, the cooperative noted.

On Sept. 14, AECC filed to amend its application so that it will apply solely to AECC and not its members. No protests to the application were filed. Notice of the amended application and response to the deficiency letter was mailed by the commission on Sept. 16 to the potentially-affected QFs identified in the amended application.

Said the Dec. 4 order: “AECC’s application to terminate the requirement that AECC enter into new contracts or obligations to purchase electric energy and capacity from QFs with a net capacity in excess of 20 MW on a service territory-wide basis in SPP is granted.”

In the Sept. 14 update, Arkansas Electric wrote: “AECC assures the Commission that it remains fully committed to interconnecting with any QF (regardless of size) and to providing nondiscriminatory interconnection to and transmission service over its non-transferred facilities in SPP to QFs so that they can reach the SPP markets. As described on its website, for generators that are less than 20 MW (single or multiple units) that are not eligible for the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) Net Metering Rules, and are planned to operate in parallel with AECC systems, AECC processes those facilities using the FERC Small Generator Interconnection Rules. Similarly, large generators 20 MW or higher (single or multiple units totaling 20 MW) that are planned to operate in parallel with AECC systems will be processed under the FERC Large Generator Rules.”

FERC staff noted that the cooperative’s original application identified a single 80-MW QF (Dragonfly Industries International LLC: Arkansas One) as being affected by this change. In response to a staff request, AECC in the Sept. 14 updated identified several more projects at both more than and less than 20 MW in size. Those included:

  • Domtar Industries Inc., Ashdown plant, Ashdown AR, interconnect to Southwestern Electric Power system, 156.5 MW;
  • Dragonfly Industries International, Arkansas One plant, Elm Springs AR, 80 MW;
  • USCE-Little Rock District, Beaver Dam facility, Eureka Springs AR, 112 MW;
  • USCE-Little Rock District, Greers Ferry facility, Heber Springs AR, 96 MW; and
  • USCE-Little Rock District, Norfork facility, Mountain Home AR, 80.4 MW.
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.