FERC conference discusses energy industry issues relating to PURPA

Published on July 05, 2016 by Alyssa Michaud

A recent technical conference organized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), titled “Implementation Issues Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA)” drew together panelists from across the country to discuss challenges relating to PURPA arrangements and obligations in the energy industry.

Panelists included Commissioners Paul Kjellander and Kristine Raper from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President Travis Kavulla, who described various electrical generation structures in the U.S. marketplace.

“PURPA’s goals are to encourage wholesale competition in electric generation and to increase the use of renewable energy and cogeneration, while keeping consumers neutral in the long run,” Kavulla said. “That’s a tough row to hoe, and there are questions about whether PURPA is too clunky an instrument to accomplish these goals, which seem in most areas to have advanced due to other causes, and not PURPA. Nonetheless, it is the law and it is true that there are a number of states where wholesale competition in generation is not reality. In those places, PURPA remains an important, and time-consuming, consideration.”

Kavulla also discussed methods that are in use for avoiding costs in states where PURPA is prominent.

“NARUC would welcome the opportunity to work with the Commission in the future to address these issues,” Kavulla said.