Federal Solar Power Plant Siting, Construction, & Regulation(7-FD)
Developers seeking to construct a utility-scale solar facility on federal lands must comply with various requirements and obtain the necessary permits. Developers may choose to seek status as a Qualifying Facility under the Public Utilities Regulatory Act (PURPA). Developers may also qualify as Exempt Wholesale Generators if they are independent power producers that exclusively sell energy to wholesale customers and complete the self-certification process overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Developers may choose to seek Qualifying Facility (QF) status under the PURPA, which allows certain benefits under the law. For example, QFs have the right to sell energy or capacity to a utility, the right to purchase certain services from utilities, and relief from certain regulatory burdens. Developers seeking QF status must submit a properly completed Form No. 556 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). See 18 CFR 131.80. Requirements for QF status vary depending on whether the facility is a small power production facility or a cogeneration facility. A small power production facility is a facility generating 80MW or less with a primary energy source of hydro, solar, wind, biomass, waste, or geothermal resources. Specific requirements for small power production facilities are outlined in 18 CFR 292.204. A cogeneration facility is a facility that produces both electricity and steam, requirements are outlined in 18 CFR 292.205. Developers are required to provide notice of the filling of a completed Form No. 556 to each electric utility which it expects will interconnect, transmit, or sell electric energy to the facility and to any state regulatory authority which will be affected. Following review, FERC will issue an order granting or denying certification. Any denial will outline the specific requirements that the facility does not meet.
Developers may qualify as Exempt Wholesale Generators (EWG) if they are independent power producers that exclusively sell energy to wholesale customers and complete the self-certification process overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Obtaining EWG status can exempt the generator from certain reporting and accounting regulations under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and allows the generator to sell power at market-based rates. Developers seeking EWG status may file a Notice of Self-Certification with FERC demonstrating that they satisfy the definition of an EWG. Developers who file a Notice of Self-Certification in good faith will have temporary EWG status. Developers must also file a copy of the Notice of Self-Certification with the state regulatory authority in the state where the facility is located. After FERC and any state regulatory authority (if necessary) make a determination on the Notice of Self-Certification, the developer receives EWG status.
Determine Which Federal Permits Apply
Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.
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