By William Driscoll

The Montana Environmental Information Center and nine other solar and environmental groups have challenged in federal court the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) recent rulemaking on PURPA that they said “effectively guts” the law’s implementation.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) filed a separate petition.

The PURPA law “is the sole federal policy requiring monopoly utilities to purchase energy from renewable sources,” the solar and environmental petitioners said.

“PURPA has always been unpopular with monopoly utilities and their allies,” which have consistently “lobbied for PURPA repeal and weaker FERC rules,” the petition said. FERC “finally relented to that lobbying” in changing the PURPA regulations in 2020.

The full name of PURPA is the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978.

FERC’s new PURPA regulations “cut off” Congress’s goal of encouraging development of renewable energy, the petitioners said, just as “declining costs for renewable energy and rising costs for monopoly utility fossil fuel generation finally made small scale wind and solar under PURPA competitive.”

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