On June 6 the Energy Production and Regulation Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), held a hearing on legislation S. 708, The Electric Utility Ratepayer Act, which would repeal section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), which mandates purchases from qualifying facilities (QFs) at avoided-cost rates.
Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act
The issue of the day is what to do with the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). Whether the act will be repealed or merely revised is open to debate, but the consensus is that changes are forthcoming.
Ever since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its February order finding that the California commission had violated PURPA by requiring Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas and Electric Co.
On May 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. (NMP) filed suit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), seeking relief from what it terms "mandated, above-market electricity purchases" from unregulated generators.
Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its electric "giga-NOPR" on transmission access, stranded investment, and Real-time Information Networks (RINs), the heat is on (em and rising. Congress is busy, too. It's working hard on telecommunications, nuclear waste, and privatization of the federal power marketing agencies, but the odds may be growing against repeal of PURPA (the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act) or PUHCA (the Public Utility Holding Company Act.
Forty percent of 42 state public utility commissions (PUCs) expect electric utilities to unbundle generation from transmission and distribution within the next one to five years, according to a survey conducted for the Electric Generation Association (EGA) by Boston Pacific Co.
The electric power industry is mutating all over the globe. We can analyze, study, and compare, yet no single and universal model has emerged in any country. Each has developed a solution of its own.
The restructuring of the U.S. electric power industry has provoked a strong response here in Canada, but few seem to care that a U.S. solution could prove ill-advised on this side of the border. The structures of electric industries are fundamentally different in both countries.
Stranded costs are those costs that electric utilities are currently permitted to recover through their rates but whose recovery may be impeded or prevented by the advent of competition in the industry. Estimates of these costs run from the tens to the hundreds of billions of dollars. Should regulators permit utilities to recover stranded costs while they take steps to promote competition in the electric power industry?
The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has refused to settle a dispute between Florida Power Corp., an electric utility, and numerous qualified cogenerating facilities (QFs) over pricing terms contained in negotiated purchased-power agreements previously approved as cost-effective. The PSC ruled that interpretation of provisions in negotiated, as opposed to approved standard-offer, contracts between utilities and QFs was a matter for the courts and rejected allegations that review and approval gave the PSC continuing jurisdiction to interpret the contracts.
The Independent Energy Producers (IEP), a Sacramento-based independent energy advocacy group, has announced that it will petition for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reconsider its ruling that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) violated the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) by requiring two utilities to purchase power at above avoided costs (FERC Docket Nos. EL95-16-000 and EL95-19-000).
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ruled that an Illinois statute did not require rates above avoided cost for wholesale sales by qualifying facilities (QFs), and so did not violate the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) (Docket No. EL95-27-000).
The statute at issue requires a utility to buy power from qualifying solid-waste energy facilities at the utility's retail rate. But the statute includes an offsetting monthly tax credit, which prevents a utility from paying more than its avoided costs.