FERC grants break on QF standard for Yuma Cogeneration plant

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 8 granted an Oct. 4 request from Yuma Cogeneration Associates for a temporary waiver of the qualifying facility (QF) efficiency standard in section 292.205(a)(2) of the commission’s regulations for the calendar year 2015 with respect to Yuma’s 52.3-MW natural-gas-fired, topping-cycle cogeneration QF in Yuma, Arizona.

The Yuma QF consists of one General Electric Frame 6, natural gas-fired combustion turbine generator, one heat recovery steam generator with supplemental firing, and one extraction/condensing steam turbine. Yuma QF’s steam host is a carpet manufacturing facility owned and operated by Shaw Industries, which uses high pressure steam and low pressure steam provided by the Yuma QF. The entire electrical output of the Yuma QF is committed to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) under a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA).

The original PPA entered into between Yuma and SDG&E required that the Yuma QF meet the requirements of a QF. On Nov. 30, 2015, that original PPA was terminated, and was superseded and replaced by an amended and restated PPA. In the amended and restated PPA, the Yuma QF was no longer required to meet the requirements of a QF. Yuma noted that the entire output from the Yuma QF continues to be committed to SDG&E.

Yuma voluntarily relinquished its QF status on Jan. 20, 2016. Yuma asserted that the Yuma QF does not intend to seek future certification as a QF. Yuma noted that, due to the characteristics of the Yuma QF, the cycling of the unit from on to off is inefficient, and that it can take up to 40 hours to recover from the startup period to achieve an average efficiency of 45%. Pursuant to section 292.203(b)(1) of the commission’s regulations, a topping-cycle cogeneration QF must comply with the operating and efficiency standards specified in section 292.205(a) of the commission’s regulations.

Yuma stated that the Yuma QF operated with an efficiency of 44.15% for the calendar year 2015, which is just below the 45% efficiency standard for topping-cycle cogeneration QFs. Yuma contended that its waiver request is limited in duration, timely, and that further waivers will not be necessary. Yuma also maintained that the QF provides substantial public benefits and produces significant energy savings, and that granting the waiver is consistent with PURPA’s goal of encouraging cogeneration facilities.

Said the Nov. 9 order: “Yuma’s request for limited waiver of the cogeneration QF efficiency standard for the calendar year 2015 is granted pursuant to section 292.205(c) of 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.