FERC Consolidates QF Interconnection Proceedings

FERC will hold off on responding to issues raised by several parties in response to a recent Commission order that, among other things, determined that when qualifying facilities (QFs) in California sell excess power or make sales to third parties under court authorization, they should be allowed to request interconnection and transmission service from utilities in California. The Commission last Monday said that it would address all issues raised on rehearing of the order, as well as issues raised in response to a Federal Power Act (FPA) proposal included in the order, in a single future decision.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's action stems from a May 16 order in which it responded to motions for emergency relief filed by Ridgewood Power LLC and the California Cogeneration Council (see NGI, May 21). Ridgewood and California Cogeneration represent the interests of QFs in California. In the May 16 order, FERC emphasized that a QF that sells excess power to third-party purchasers has the right to request transmission service and the appropriate public utilities have the obligation to provide it under FERC's Order 888.

To avoid any uncertainty and to assure that interconnection services are provided, FERC also proposed to order under Section 210(d) of the FPA that electric utilities in California immediately provide interconnection service to allow for sales of excess QF power to third-party purchasers or sales of QF power that are authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction.

In response to the order, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) filed a motion for clarification asking FERC to shed light on whether the order is subject to rehearing. The CPUC alleged that the order was ambiguous related to the right to seek rehearing of the non-Section 210 issues addressed in the decision. Meanwhile, the California Electricity Oversight Board (CEOB) asked FERC to clarify that it intended, through the order, to provide that "excess power" must be sold in California, and the definition of excess power was not intended to abrogate QFs' firm capacity contractual obligations. FERC has also received several filings related to its Section 210 proposal included in the May 16 order.

"We believe that it is appropriate to address in a single future order the issues raised by all parties in pleadings filed in response to the Commission's May 16 order," FERC said. The Commission noted that it would defer addressing issues raised on rehearing by the CEOB, the CPUC and others, until it first has a chance to address all the related matters brought up by the May 16 order. "We anticipate action on these issues in the near future," the Commission said.

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