PURPA enacted in 1978, was originally intended to encourage alternative energy sources as part of a broader effort to diversify the U.S. energy mix and reduce reliance on foreign supply. PURPA was intended to foster the development of independent generation by encouraging the deployment of small, distributed energy generators, such as small solar and hydro facilities.

In July this year, FERC finalized its updates to PURPA to try and preserve competition and give states more flexibility in implementing the federal rule. This new ruling allows states to set the rates paid to qualifying facilities (QFs) at a variable wholesale rate rather than a fixed cost, reducing the size of a project that is subject to such rates from 20 MW to 5 MW, and modifying the one-mile rule to prevent aggregation. Utilities in some states view this as a win as they will have to pay QFs less for the avoided cost of power than they did under the previous rules. On the other hand, solar supporters say this ruling could hurt the ability of small solar projects to secure the financing they need.

Join us for this event to learn about how this new FERC ruling affects the different shareholders. The blend of relevant presentations and panel discussions will provide good perspectives and best practices to consider for PURPA moving forward.

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. :: Log In and Welcome

9:00 – 9:15 a.m. :: Opening Announcements

9:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. :: Session I
The Revised One-Mile Rule
Because the law was designed to give smaller power players a leg up in entering the energy market, the size of a project — along with its location — determines whether it is a qualifying facility (QF). Independently developed renewable projects need the QF designation to sell power to a host utility at the utility’s avoided cost. Under the previous FERC rules, such projects must be a mile apart to be considered a separate facility. Part of FERC’s new ruling includes modifying the “one-mile rule” for determining whether generation facilities are at the same site for purposes of determining whether it is a qualifying small power production facility. This session will explore the presumption that facilities 10 miles apart or more are now considered separate facilities.

Zev Simpser, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney

1:15 – 4:15 p.m. :: Session II
Legal Challenges to FERC’s Ruling, and Possible Outcomes
Although the procedural requirements to challenge a FERC order adopting implementation regulations under PURPA are not entirely clear, the likely next step will be to file Petitions for Rehearing of the Final Rule. Given the controversial nature of the Final Rule, it is likely that significant litigation will follow in the U.S. Courts of Appeal, and it is also possible that litigation will be brought in the U.S. District Courts. Rules carrying out PURPA on the ground must be adopted by state utility commissions and the governing boards of publicly owned utilities. This session will review possible legal challenges to the new FERC ruling as well as possible outcomes.

Kristen N. Edwards, Staff Attorney, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
Zev Simpser, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney

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