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NARUC's Kavulla and Idaho Commissioners Describe PURPA Challenges at FERC Technical Conference

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For Immediate Release: June 29, 2016
Contact: Regina L. Davis, 202-898-9382,

WASHINGTON—National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President Travis Kavulla of Montana and Commissioners Paul Kjellander and Kristine Raper from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission are scheduled panelists today at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s technical conference, Implementation Issues Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA).

PURPA’s overall goal is to encourage development of cogeneration and renewable resources and the competitive acquisition of wholesale power supplies.  The stated purpose of the conference is to focus on issues associated with FERC’s implementation of PURPA, with a focus on the mandatory purchase obligation under PURPA and the determination of avoided costs for those purchases.

As noted in Commissioner Kjellanders’s filed comments, “[T]he available tools for state commissions to carry out their obligations under PURPA and state statutes are limited in number and precision.” Commissioner Raper’s remarks note that FERC “should continue to recognize that there are various methods for calculating avoided costs” and that states “should retain the authority to select a methodology that best suits their situations.”

“PURPA’s goals are to encourage wholesale competition in electric generation and to increase the use of renewable energy and cogeneration, while keeping consumers neutral in the long run,” President Kavulla said. “That’s a tough row to hoe, and there are questions about whether PURPA is too clunky an instrument to accomplish these goals, which seem in most areas to have advanced due to other causes, and not PURPA. Nonetheless, it is the law and it is true that there are a number of states where wholesale competition in generation is not reality. In those places, PURPA remains an important, and time-consuming, consideration.” 

Nearly two decades ago, NARUC resolved that PURPA’s mandatory purchase obligations should not exist “in any state which has made a finding that the acquisition of generating capacity is subject to competition or other acquisition procedures such that the public interest is protected with respect to price, service, reliability and diversity of resources.” Kavulla’s written comments reiterate that viewpoint, and offer a handful of ideas for reform of administrative regulations.

Otherwise, Kavulla’s presentation is aimed at describing the different marketplace structures for electrical generation in the United States and the methods of measuring avoided cost in states where PURPA is prominent.  

“NARUC would welcome the opportunity to work with the Commission in the future to address these issues,” Kavulla said.

Pre-filed comments from the panelists are available on FERC’s website at NARUC’s resolutions concerning PURPA are available at and


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NARUC is a non-profit organization founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. NARUC's member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy, and water utilities. NARUC represents the interests of State public utility commissions before the three branches of the Federal government.

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