FERC stays out of PURPA dispute between solar developer and Vermont board

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in a brief Jan. 3 notice, said it will not act on a Nov. 4, 2016, petition from Otter Creek Solar LLC, Allco Finance Ltd. and PLH LLC for enforcement of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and to initiate enforcement action against the Vermont Public Service Board to remedy alleged improper implementation of PURPA.

Said the Jan. 3 FERC notice: “Notice is hereby given that the Commission declines to initiate an enforcement action under section 210(h)(2) of PURPA. Our decision not to initiate an enforcement action means that Petitioners may themselves bring an enforcement action against the Vermont Commission in the appropriate court.”

The Vermont Public Service Board (VPSB) had on Nov. 30, 2016, asked FERC not to intervene in this matter. It said the Nov. 4 petition did not raise any legitimate basis for an enforcement action against the VPSB. It said FERC action is not warranted for reasons that include:

  • With respect to the objections to the state’s standard-offer program, the petition, filed pursuant to PURPA section 210(h)(2)(B), identifies no violation of PURPA section 210(f), which directs states to establish rules consistent with the commission’s PURPA program. Rather, the petition complains about the VPSB’s implementation of the state’s standard-offer program which the Commission has previously recognized as a program that is optional and supplemental to the board’s Rule 4.100 PURPA program.
  • The petition’s objections to New Rule 4.100 mischaracterize the provisions of that rule. Specifically, Rule 4.100 as revised provides QFs several different avenues to seek to sell the output of their facilities, including an option to negotiate with the distribution utilities for contracts longer than seven years and an option to enter into up to a seven-year contract with avoided costs calculated at the time of the obligation, said the board. Additionally, the petition’s contentions that PURPA and/or the commission’s regulations prohibit the state regulatory authority from imposing limits on the length of the legally enforceable obligation are mistaken.
  • The petition’s arguments that New Rule 4.100 and the standard-offer program discriminate against QFs misconstrue PURPA.
  • The petition’s claims that the VPSB is engaging in impermissible wholesale rate regulation are mistaken.
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.