Idaho PUC addresses PURPA in new renewable energy rules

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Idaho energy regulators yesterday approved new regulations for sales agreements and rate structures between state renewable energy projects and regulated utilities.

The decision by the three-member commission came after pressure by state utilities, who felt that the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) was forcing them to buy power they didn't need and that the Act deserved adjustment.

Tuesday's decision set forth a number of rulings, including:

  • Setting a 100 KW cap for wind and solar projects seeking the PUCs published avoided cost rates.
  • Denying Idaho Power's proposal to curtail PURPA-mandated wind purchases during periods of reduced customer load.
  • Establishing a 20-year maximum contract agreement between utilities and qualifying facilities (QF) which utilities lobbied five years for.
  • Creating new standards for renewable projects who wish to retain their renewable energy credits (REC).

"With the changes adopted herein, we believe that PURPA development can continue to thrive in a way that holds ratepayers harmless," the Commission wrote in a statement. "QF projects that provide a utility with needed energy and capacity will be compensated accordingly. QF projects that are inconsistent and detrimental to a utility's load and resource balance will also be compensated at a rate that reflects the costs that the QF allows the utility to avoid by purchasing its generation."

While the Order is final, utilities have until January 8 to petition the rules.

For more:
-see the release

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