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E&C Leaders Demand Answers on FERC’s Efforts to Gut PURPA

Nov 8, 2019
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) today demanded answers from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) about its efforts to change key provisions of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA).

FERC’s recent notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) would change PURPA – a program enacted by Congress with the express aim of promoting competitiveness and sustainable energy – by undermining the ability of small, independent, sustainable energy projects’ ability to obtain financing. The two Committee leaders expressed concern that these changes would amount to a complete rewrite of the law, gutting PURPA in the process.

“FERC’s [notice of proposed rulemaking] essentially constitutes a wholesale rewrite of the statute by the Commission – something Congress has repeatedly refused to do,” wrote Pallone and Rush. “FERC’s proposals would effectively gut PURPA and completely reverse course on competitive market development – a policy clearly enshrined by Congress in the Energy Policy Acts of 1992 and 2005 because it encourages innovation and benefits consumers and the environment. Equally concerning is that many of these proposals seem to have little to no record to support them.”

The letter requests that FERC address a number of specific questions about its proposed elimination of the requirement that a Qualifying Facility (QF) must have an option to select a fixed-price, long-term contract for energy. The Committee leaders believe this change would make it extremely difficult for any QF to obtain financing.

The Committee leaders also questioned whether FERC has sufficient evidence to support its proposals, and whether its proposals are contrary to FERC’s statutory obligation to encourage sustainable energy development.

The letter requests answers by November 22, 2019. The full letter is available here.