PURPA Qualifying Facility Certification (7-FD-c(2))
A cogeneration facility is a generating facility that sequentially produces electricity and another form of useful thermal energy (such as heat or steam). In a way cogeneration is more efficient than the separate production of both forms of energy.
A small power production facility is a generating facility that is 80 megawatts or less with a primary energy source (i.e. at least 75%) of hydro, wind, solar, biomass, waste, or geothermal resources. Qualifying Facilities have the right to sell energy to public utilities at the "avoided cost" rate (i.e. the cost to the public utility to produce the energy itself), provided FERC has not relieved the utility from its purchase obligation under 18 CFR 292.309.
A hydropower project that impounds or diverts the water of a natural watercourse by means of a new dam or diversion must meet the following requirements in order to qualify as a qualifying facility:
- The project will not have a substantial adverse effect on the environment;
- The project is not located on any segment of a natural watercourse that is protected under state or federal law for its natural, recreational, cultural or scenic attributes; and
- The project meets the terms and conditions issued by the appropriate fish and wildlife agencies under the Federal Power Act.
For more information on the specific requirements for a qualifying hydropower facility, see 18 CFR Section 292.203(c).
It may be advantageous for developers to seek Qualifying Facility (QF) status under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA). Qualifying Facilities may enjoy certain benefits under federal law including:
- The right to sell energy or capacity to a utility;
The right to purchase certain services from utilities; and
- Relief from certain regulatory burdens.
The following categories of QFs are exempt from State laws and regulations respecting the rates and financial and organizational aspects of utilities:
- Small power production facilities 30 MW or smaller; and
- Geothermal power production facilities of any size.
PURPA Qualifying Facility Certification Process
7-FD-c.1 – Certification of Qualifying Facility Status for a Small Power Production or Cogeneration Facility (Form 556) & Fee
The owner or operator of the facility seeking Qualifying Facility (QF) status may obtain QF status by either submitting a self-certification or applying for and obtaining a FERC certification of QF status. To obtain QF status, the developer must properly complete and file Form No. 556 pursuant to 18 CFR 131.80 to FERC. For applications to the Commission (FERC) for certification, the properly completed application must be accompanied by the fee prescribed in 18 CFR 381.
7-FD-c.2 – Give Notice to the Appropriate Authorities
An owner or operator filing a self-certification, self-recertification, application for FERC certification, or application for FERC recertification of the qualifying status of a facility must serve a copy of the filing on each electric utility which it expects to interconnect, transmit, or sell electric energy to, or purchase, supplementary, standby, back-up, or maintenance power from, as well as the state regulatory authority for each state where the facility and each affected electric utility is located. Additionally, FERC will publish notice in the Federal Register for each application for FERC certification and for each self-certification of a cogeneration facility subject to the requirements of 18 CFR 292.205(d).
7-FD-c.3 – Submit Pre-Application Document and Statement Seeking PURPA 210 Benefits
In addition, for projects reviewed under the FERC licensing process, the developer must submit to FERC a Pre-Application Document (PAD) describing the existing and proposed (if any) project facilities and operations, provide information on the existing environment, and existing data or studies relevant to the existing environment, and any known and potential impacts of the proposed project on the specified resources 18 CFR 5.6(c). The developer must also provide a statement of whether or not they will seek benefits under section 210 of PURPA. 18 CFR 5.6(e). If the developer decides to seek PURPA’s 210 benefits then they must also provide a statement of whether or not they believe the project is located at a new dam or diversion, and request for the relevant agencies’ view on that belief, if any. 18 CFR 5.6(e). A new dam or diversion is a dam or diversion which requires, for the purposes of installing any hydroelectric power project, any construction, or enlargement of any impoundment or diversion structure (other than repairs or reconstruction or the addition of flashboards of similar adjustable devices). 18 CFR 292.202(p).
7-FD-c.4 – Agencies Review and Comment on PAD and Diversion or Dam Location
Relevant federal agencies will review and comment on the PAD. Comments made by a fish and wildlife agency must provide a reasonable estimate of the total costs the agency anticipates it will incur in order to set mandatory terms and conditions for the proposed project 18 CFR 5.9(c). Relevant federal agencies will also review the developer’s statement regarding dam or diversion location, if the developer chooses to seek benefits under section 210 of PURPA. CFR 5.6(e).
7-FD-c.5 – Assign Docket Number
FERC will assign a docket number to each application for Certification of Qualifying Facility status for a small power production or cogeneration facility (Form 556), regardless of whether the owner or operator is seeking self-certification or FERC certification.
7-FD-c.6 to 7-FD-c.7 - Does the Owner or Operator of the Facility Seek FERC Certification in lieu of Self-Certification?
If the owner or operator of the facility chooses not to file an application for Certification of Qualifying Facility status with FERC, but rather chooses to file a self-certification the Qualifying Facility certification process is complete. If the owner or operator of the facility chooses to apply for Commission (FERC) certification, FERC will process the application and make a determination on the Qualifying Facility status.
7-FD-c.8 to 7-FD-c.9 – Review Application Materials for Completeness
FERC reviews the application for completeness and within 90 days of the later of the filing of an application or the filing of a supplement, amendment, or other change to the application and determines whether the application is complete.
7-FD-c.10 – Is the Order Tolled Under 18-CFR 292.207(b)(3)?
Within 90 days of the filing of a complete application or the filing of a supplement, amendment, or other change to the application, FERC has the option to toll the time for issuing an order.
7-FD-c.11 – Order Granting/Denying Certification
Within 90 days of the filing of a complete application or of the filing of a supplement, amendment, or other change to the application, FERC will issue an order granting or denying the order. Any order denying certification must list the specific requirements the facility does not meet. If FERC fails to act within 90 days of the date of the latest filing, the order is automatically granted.
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