QF Group Seeks Emergency Relief from FERC

A group representing qualifying facility (QF) generators last week called on FERC to immediately order California's two troubled investor-owned utilities to provide "interconnection, scheduling, transmission and related services" to QF plants in California, and to "cease and desist" from carrying out actions that are blocking sales of QF power.

In a motion seeking emergency relief, the California Cogeneration Council (CCC) claims that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison-in violation of their power purchase agreements-have refused to pay or have paid only "nominal" amounts to QFs for power supplied to them over the past five months, while demanding that the QFs continue to sell them power; have refused to allow the QFs to sell their power to other parties; have used their control of interconnection facilities to block sales to third parties; and have threatened the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) with litigation if it permitted QFs to sell power to third parties through the ISO.

"These unlawful actions have deprived the ISO grid of thousands of megawatts of critically needed energy and capacity, increasing the probability and duration of blackouts, and creating a continuous reduction in power supply and an increase in market prices," the CCC told FERC [EL01-47]. With the summer peak looming, "California cannot afford to have thousands of megawatts of capacity held hostage pending a resolution of the complicated issues involved in the energy crisis."

The recent bankruptcy filing of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), a large buyer of QF power, further heightens the need for prompt action by FERC, said Ridgewood Power LLC, a California QF generator, in a separate request for emergency action. "The action by PG&E will have an immediate adverse impact on QF generation in California and, unless the Commission immediately authorizes third-party QF sales, most, if not all, QF generation capacity in the state is likely to go off-line," it warned.

The CCC estimates that QF facilities in California have the capacity to provide more than 9,500 MW of power to the ISO-controlled transmission grid.

"The bankruptcy of PG&E, the insolvency of [SoCal Edison] and the ISO, and the financial distress of [San Diego Gas and Electric] make it imperative that this Commission exercise its power under Section 210 of the FPA [Federal Power Act] to the fullest extent possible to allow QF power to remain on or get back onto the ISO grid," the group said. It asked FERC to respond in an expedited manner.

"No other federal or state agency or court has the experience, knowledge and legal authority of this Commission to act in this matter. Granting this motion is the single action most likely to assist in the amelioration of the California energy crisis in the immediate future."

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