Democratic News

Jun 28 2016

Cantwell Reiterates Support for PURPA in Advance of FERC Technical Conference

In a February Letter, Cantwell Asked the Commission to Ensure That Issues Important to Renewable Energy Generators Are Heard

Download a PDF of the letter here.

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will hold a technical conference on the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). The commission will hear from panelists addressing two issues: (1) the statute’s requirement that utilities purchase power from qualifying small renewable energy generators and cogeneration facilities; and (2) what a purchasing utility must pay for the power.

In February, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and the Ranking Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Energy and Power Subcommittee wrote to the commission, urging a balanced discussion of the implementation of the law. PURPA serves as an important tool enabling small renewable electric generators to gain access to customers.   

It is critical that FERC continues to ensure that these small generators are not shut out of the market,” Sen. Cantwell said. “I’ll be interested to see what FERC does with the feedback it receives and will be following closely whatever next steps the commission takes.”

In February, Sen. Cantwell, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) wrote to FERC Chairman Norman Bay regarding the technical conference, noting that PURPA remains an important federal backstop for renewable energy investment, especially given the often tenuous nature of state electricity policies.

The three Democrats warned against narrowing the scope of PURPA further than Congress already did in the 2005 energy bill. The letter also provided a suggested list of topics for discussion at the technical conference, addressing issues important both to small renewable electric generators and cogeneration facilities.