07/20/2020 - Ari Peskoe

FERC kills anti-net metering plan as PURPA fight rages

Tag: E&E News

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission made two decisions yesterday that affect renewable energy, prompting starkly opposing reactions from wind and solar supporters. In a unanimous vote, FERC rejected a contentious petition that sought to end nationwide net metering, a practice that requires utilities to pay rooftop solar owners for the extra electricity they generate. That sparked praise from renewable groups that also blasted the agency for a separate, final rule updating the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), a 1970s energy law meant to promote the adoption of small-scale, independent wind and solar projects…Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program who has been critical of NERA’s petition, said in general, he doesn’t see the commission picking the issue back up, however. “Although perhaps yes if [Republicans] hold the majority for another five years, which might provide enough time for someone to file a more specific petition/enforcement action,” he wrote in an email. Peskoe said Danly seemed to suggest parties might now bring lawsuits in federal court to challenge net metering. “Perhaps he knows something. His premise is that various courts might draw different conclusions about FERC’s jurisdiction, and that would be a bad result,” he said. “He therefore appears to suggest that FERC ought to weigh in, to ensure a uniform national approach to FERC’s jurisdiction.” He added that a court faced with a net-metering lawsuit could simply ask FERC to weigh in as has happened in the past.

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