Renewables have flourished due to PURPA. However, many utilities have complained that they are being forced to purchase power at rates above avoided cost. In response to recent petitions by two California utilities, the FERC reiterated that states cannot require utilities to buy power from PURPA qualifying facilities at prices above avoided cost. Concern that utilities are being required to pay above-market prices for power from renewable energy and cogeneration facilities has led some members of Congress to propose repeal of the so-called mandatory purchase provisions of PURPA. Repeal would have adverse impacts on the continued deployment of renewable resources; DOE does not support it.
The solutions to these problems will be intricate and complex. Yet the process is not. Solutions will only be derived when all interested parties recognize that their concerns are part of the greater public interest. t
Richard Rosenzweig is chief of staff to U.S. Energy Secretary Hazel R. O'Leary. His work deals with electric policy, global climate change, the international power market, energy security, nuclear waste, national security, and environmental cleanup. Prior to his appointment, Rosenzweig was executive vice president of The Madison Group, a Washington public affairs firm specializing in energy and environmental policy. He was also director of The Keystone Energy Futures Project, which developed far-reaching options to restructure the electric power industry.
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