Washington, D.C. - A wide ranging environmental coalition filed comments late yesterday against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) proposed rule to roll back essential elements of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) that give small clean energy resources equal access to electricity markets. The coalition, made up of Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Southern Environmental Law Center, VoteSolar, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Environmental Law & Policy Center, argue in the comments that FERC’s rollback fundamentally undercuts certainty surrounding the energy price that small clean energy generators receive for producing power, and creates significant new barriers to financeability and development of small projects.
“This effort to gut fair access to our electricity markets for clean energy resources like solar and wind clearly clashes with the letter and intent of PURPA, which Congress passed to ensure all Americans have access to affordable renewable energy,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Senior Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “Despite the well funded propaganda being circulated this week in support of the proposed rule by wealthy monopoly utilities who don’t want clean energy to gain a foothold in their territories, this proposed rule will have a hard time standing up in court.”
FERC’s proposed rule violates PURPA’s prohibition against discrimination, opening up new avenues for utilities to ensure their own generation receive rates that are more favorable than the price they would have to pay small renewable generators. By arbitrarily limiting small renewable energy producers to receiving variable and artificially low prices for energy, but excusing large utilities from the same rules, the proposed rule ensures that consumers will pay more for the same service (which a small producer could have provided for less than the utility) while also increasing fossil fuel consumption. As a result, small renewable energy development - for example, rooftop solar for homeowners and small businesses - will face additional hurdles if this rule goes into effect.
“Clean energy beats dirty monopoly utility generation on price. Yet, FERC’s proposed rule would erect an unfair double standard favoring utility monopolies and shielding them from competition with cheaper clean energy in a fair marketplace,” said Earthjustice Attorney David Bender. “FERC’s proposed rule would rig the game against clean community-sized renewable energy project jobs because monopoly utilities’ uneconomic, dirty plants can’t compete. Earthjustice will continue to stand with the communities who demand access to clean energy with no double standards.”
PURPA was designed to eliminate barriers to the development of small, independent clean energy projects, and FERC’s proposed rule actually creates more of them.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.