Washington UTC Moves Toward Final PURPA Rules
WASHINGTON UTC MOVES TOWARD FINAL PURPA RULES
THAT WILL ENCOURAGE
NEW RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS IN WASHINGTON
COMMENTS DUE APRIL 1, 2019
On February 22, the Washington UTC took the next step in a long process to develop new rules implementing Section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”), which requires utilities to purchase electricity generated by small renewable generators and cogeneration facilities, referred to as “Qualifying Facilities.” If adopted, the new rules will replace rules that have largely thwarted PURPA developments in Washington. Comments on the proposed rules are due on April 1, 2019, and a hearing on adoption of the proposed rules will be held on April 30, 2019.
The proposed rules include several measures that, if adopted, will make PURPA a much more useful tool for renewable project development in Washington. These include an increase in the standard term for contracts from five years to fifteen for new projects meeting Washington’s greenhouse gas limitations. The proposed rules also require Washington’s regulated utilities to publish standard avoided cost rates for both energy and capacity, and also require the utilities to provide standardized contracts for generators with 5 MW of capacity or less. The avoided cost rates may differentiate between different generation technologies so that avoided cost rates for solar or wind may be different from the rates for other types of generators.
The UTC’s rules dovetail with legislation, now advancing through the legislature, that will commit Washington to further decarbonizing its electric grid and setting a goal of 100% carbon-free energy by 2045.