FERC to review law promoting renewables

Source: By Daily on Energy, Washington Times • Posted: Friday, May 18, 2018

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Kevin McIntyre announced Thursday that the commission is beginning a review of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to consider updating it to reflect the changing nature of the electric grid.

Times change: The law, known was PURPA, was created when the grid was less fuel diverse, and was intended to help bring smaller, distributed electricity generators into the market.

Distributed renewable energy systems generate clean electricity on site and are disconnected from the centralized grid.

Renewables are fast-growing and are becoming a larger share of the grid.

‘Open mind’: McIntyre, at FERC’s monthly public meeting, did not announce a format or timeline for the review, saying he has an “open mind” on whether changes are needed.

Other commissioners support the review.

“Today’s energy landscape is profoundly different from late ‘70s, and because of this many have rightly voiced a desire for a fresh look at the existing policy to better align PURPA with the needs we have today,” said Neil Chatterjee, a Republican FERC commissioner.

Commissioner Robert Powelson, a Republican, said a review is necessary so “we remain relevant with the times,” noting how the energy system has moved from a “scarcity environment” to “energy dominance or independence.”

Power with Congress: Richard Glick, a Democratic commissioner, also supports the review, but noted FERC has limited authority to change the law.

“Major changes need to be decided by Congress, not this commission,” Glick said.