- PacifiCorp subsidiary Pacific Power has asked Oregon regulators to shorten the length of contracts signed under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, from 15 years to three.
- The Sierra Club has intervened in the proceeding, telling the Oregon Public Utility Commission that the change would slow the growth of clean energy in the state.
- Idaho regulators recently passed a similar request, dropping contract lengths from 20 years to two.
Is PURPA under attack?
Earlier this year, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Energy pressed Congress to consider changes to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, asking lawmakers to exempt utilities participating in a new western market from requirements they purchase energy from PURPA-designated qualifying facilities. Then, in August, Idaho regulators approved a request by Idaho Power to dramatically shorten the lengths of contracts from 20 to two years.
Idaho Power claimed it had more than 1,300 MW of qualifying solar capacity seeking interconnection, on top of 400 MW already approved. PacifiCorp, operating as Rocky Mountain Power in eastern Idaho, joined that case as well and told regulators it had more than 275 MW of projects seeking contracts.
Now the Sierra Club is opposing a similar effort in Oregon, saying a bid to shorten contracts from 15 years to three would have a "cilling effect" on the state's renewables industry.
“Oregon families want and deserve more local clean energy like wind and solar to power our homes and communities,” Bill Arthur, associate regional campaign director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said in a statement. “Instead of supporting more investment into clean energy that creates jobs here in Oregon, Pacific Power instead wants to pull the rug out from under this growing industry and prevent the expansion of clean energy jobs and businesses that benefit our communities here at home.”
The utility says shortening contract lengths will limit customer risk at at a time when the cost of renewable development is falling.