Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act
This federal act of 1978 is a cornerstone for small generation and community based renewable energy projects, as the only law requiring investor owned utilities to purchase power from independent power producers. We continue to defend PURPA at both state and federal levels through constant vigilance and targeted activity against alterations in PURPA law or implementation that would threaten to weaken its integrity and usefulness for renewable energy projects.
There are many details and obstacles in the process of developing and maintaining a small-scale renewable energy project. Without PURPA, however, the energy generated from these projects would have nowhere to go, making the projects themselves useless.
PURPA requires utilities to purchase power from qualifying facilites at an Avoided Cost Rate (the rate at which it would have cost the uitlity to generate the same unit of power).
While PURPA is federal law, its implementation lies in the hands of each individual state. Within Oregon, PURPA implementation is controlled by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. While our organization has always been active at hearings of the OPUC, the last few years have been especially engaging for us as Docket UM 1610 presented a general investigation into contracting and pricing for qualifying facilities. Issues such as lowering the avoided cost rates and contract terms for small-scall projects, threatened their very existence and the future development of community based renewable energy.
Related and other OPUC dockets continue to hold our engagement and resources. Through experienced and specialized legal representation, we continue to defend the basic and intended rights of PURPA for small-generation. However, the more organizations and private development projects we can officially represent through membership, the stronger our voice becomes in this most crucial matter. Joining CREA puts small projects in an active role of defending their basic rights.
A qualifying facility or QF as designated by PURPA is either:
A Small Power Production Facility
Classified as a renewable energy facility of 80 megawatts or less.
A Co-Generation Facility
Merging the generation of electricity and hear or steam in a more productive way than two separate facilities could create the same energy.
QFs exist throughout Oregon in the form of wind farms, small hydropower plants within irrigation districts, methane-biodigesters on livestock farms, geothermal plants making use of natural in ground water temperatures, and more. They are examples of how the state's vast resources can be harnessed to generate clean energy.
For more information on qualifying facilities, their benefits, as well as directions on obtaining QF status for your existing or potential project or facility, visit the link below.