The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) that would allow certain Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) systems to be certified as Qualifying Facilities under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and thus receive regulatory benefits meant, in part, to encourage the innovation and development of cogeneration facilities.  The proposal applies to SOFC systems that use heat and steam to convert natural gas to hydrogen, which then reacts with oxygen in the fuel cell to produce electricity, and then uses some of the heat and steam produced to continue converting methane into hydrogen to produce additional electricity.
Continue Reading FERC Proposes QF Status for Some Fuel Cell Facilities

On December 24, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (Idaho PUC) signed a Memorandum of Agreement addressing their dispute regarding interpretation and enforcement of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA).

PURPA requires that utilities purchase power from generators with certain renewable or other characteristics (called Qualifying Facilities, or QFs) at prices that reflect the utilities’ avoided cost of generating the power.  FERC enforces the program but has left much of the implementation details to the states.  In 2013, FERC had taken the unusual step of taking the Idaho PUC to Federal court regarding the state’s implementation of the law.

In 2011, the Idaho PUC lowered the maximum size of QFs eligible to receive avoided cost rates.  A number of wind facilities at the time were in the final stages of negotiating purchase contracts with utilities but could not secure signatures until just after the effective date of the new lower size limit.  The Idaho PUC rejected a number of the agreements because they exceeded the new maximum size limits, finding that purchase agreements must be executed prior to the effective date of the change in eligibility criteria.
Continue Reading FERC and Idaho PUC Settle PURPA Lawsuit