Montana PSC plans roundtable on PURPA, renewables

The Montana Public Service Commission will hold a public roundtable on Wednesday, June 1, to discuss its implementation of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) of 1978, a federal law facilitating development of renewable energy projects.

PURPA requires utilities to purchase electricity from qualifying facilities (QFs) at the utility’s “avoided costs,” which is the cost the utility would have incurred had it supplied the power itself or obtained it from another source.

The roundtable is designed to improve the implementation of PURPA as it relates to qualifying renewable energy facilities with a nameplate capacity of 80 MW or less.

The discussion will occur in the Bollinger room at the PSC offices in Helena, and will commence at 1:15 P.M. local time.

Likely topics will include methods for estimating avoided costs; standard rate design for small projects, market price forecasting; resource capacity values and requirements for creating a “legally enforceable obligation.”

The Docket is No. N2015.9.74.

More than a dozen public comment filings have been made by renewable energy firms, state agencies, consumer groups and other parties.

A group that includes Leo Wind LLC, Montana Marginal Energy and Juhl Energy and other renewable developers said one important issue is whether the PSC should maintain a preference for competitive solicitations. The wind interests said that they favor competitive bidding – but the selection should be made by the PSC or some entity other than an electric utility. The group also said solicitations such be held on a regular basis so that “new projects do not languish and die waiting for new solicitations.”

The roundtable will be live streamed on the PSC’s website at: http://www.psc.mt.gov/video.asp.

To view comments submitted to the PSC about the investigative docket, visit: http://1.usa.gov/1NDfvqf.

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.