October 2010 Connecting to the Grid Newsletter


Note from the Editor

After three decades, PURPA still plays a role 

Since it’s October and Halloween’s coming up, I thought I would venture into one of the scari­est topics out there in the renewable energy world – federal energy regulations. They are, in a word, complex. If they were simple, we probably wouldn’t receive so many questions about the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) or the Small Generator Interconnection Pro­cedures (SGIP) issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The acronyms alone are enough to scare most people away. This month we’ll take look at how PURPA applies to utilities and next month we’ll follow up with a look at the FERC SGIP and its applicability to different types of renewable energy projects.

First, a brief version of events. As we know, in 1978 Congress enacted PURPA to encourage the deployment of more efficient and renewable energy systems. The law applied to cogenera­tion facilities and small power production facilities of 80 megawatts or less which use biomass, waste, or renewable resources, including wind, solar energy and water, to produce electric power. FERC then followed up with regulations that required utilities to purchase power from these Qualified Facilities (QFs) at the avoided cost of generation, defined as the incremental energy and capacity cost the utility would have incurred to produce that same energy through conventional fuel sources. It produced the desired result. In the 1980s over 20,000 MW of installed QF capacity were deployed. [Continued in Newsletter]

State News in Detail

Northeast States              

        New York grid could accommodate more wind energy

        Vermont non-profit organizes community solar groups

Mid-Atlantic States           

        Delaware PSC issues proposed rules for net metering changes, community solar and meter aggregation

        New Jersey hits solar milestone

        Pennsylvania finalizes solar policy statement 

Midwestern States            

        Illinois and Michigan working on plug-in electric vehicle policies

Southern States                

        Georgia Power approved to purchase more solar energy from customers

        Brenham, Texas adopts interconnection and net metering for systems up to 10 MW

Western States                  

        California enacts groundbreaking energy storage legislation

        Oregon reduces pilot solar FIT rates

        Idaho PUC issues first solar PURPA contract

Other States                      

        Hawaii adopts decoupling policy to help spur renewables and efficiency

IREC News                     

        IREC’s Annual Meeting Agenda Finalized – We’ll see you there!

Miscellaneous News     

        Military deploys solar and renewables for combat operations

        California issues regulations for a 33% Renewable Energy Standard

        White House unveils plans to go solar

Upcoming Events     


Download the full newsletter as a PDF:  OCTOBER 2010 Connecting to the Grid Newsletter


While customer-sited net metering and interconnection policies are primarily addressed at the state level, they are also becoming important on a regional basis. This newsletter has been designed to provide state-level policy updates and capture emerging regional trends. Connecting to the Grid is a free, electronic newsletter published each month by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) and the North Carolina Solar Center at North Carolina State University. Click here to subscribe.

Editor: Laurel Varnado
NC Solar Center, NC State University


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