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Why it Matters
PURPA is the only federal law that requires electric utilities to purchase renewable energy. Enacted in 1978 and significantly amended in 2005, section 210 of the statute instructs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to promulgate rules that require utilities purchase energy from renewable generators smaller than 80 megawatts and cogenerators that generate electricity as a byproduct of an industrial process. Utilities purchase energy at a price equal to the cost it would incur, but for the purchase of the energy from the PURPA qualifying facility (QF), to generate that energy on its own or purchase it from another source. States set this rate pursuant to FERC regulations.
FERC finalized new PURPA regulations on July 16, 2020 that may result in less attractive rates for developers, but will give states more implementation flexibility. The Solar Energy Industries Association challenged the rule in federal court on January 15, 2021.
Timeline of Events
Obama AdministrationRead more
Trump AdministrationRead more
July 16, 2020 FERC issues its final rules that “largely adopt the proposal.” Dissenting in part from the order, Commissioner Glick writes that FERC’s new rules will do “little to encourage QF development.”
November 19, 2020 FERC issues its rehearing order, which generally affirms FERC’s final rules.
January 15, 2021 The Solar Energy Industries Association and numerous clean energy and environmental advocacy groups file petitions in the Ninth Circuit challenging FERC’s rules.