United States

United States

EXEMPTION OF PROJECT SIZE CAP APPROVED

The Senate is expected to approve another two-year extension of the exemption from size-capping for wind and other other qualifying facilities under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act. This will mean exemptions can be obtained for larger projects certified as Qualifying Facilities by the end of 1996 and on which construction is started by 2001.

To the relief of wind lobbyists the US House of Representatives has passed a two-year extension of the size-cap exemption for qualifying facilities under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). But the Senate had not considered the matter by the third week of September, increasing chances that costs for constructing and operating wind plants in America could rise.

"The cap is arbitrary and unreasonable," says Mike Marvin of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). "If the nation wants to encourage renewable energy, why on earth would you cap the size of a plant?" An exemption from the 80 MW size limit was granted by the House of Representatives in early August, allowing exemption for projects certified as Qualifying Facilities by the end of 1996 and on which construction is started by 2001.

The size caps were in the original 1978 legislation because of uncertainty about renewables, says Marvin. Edison Electric Institute, representing private utilities, and a small group of major investor owned utilities, including Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison, are opposing the exemption.

In other Washington news, national energy policy is being re-examined by the US Department of Energy, says Marvin. The re-examination is routine and undertaken every two years as mandated by the Department of Energy Organisation Act of 1977. Regional public meetings are being held this autumn and early winter to get input. Most pertinent to wind, one of the meetings, held September 29 in Denver, was expected to focus on renewable energy technology and the future of competition in the power industry. The concept of sustainable development will provide a framework for a 1995 National Energy Policy Plan, says the US Department of Energy.

The Clinton administration is also to renew efforts to promote the export of renewable technologies. The plan will include a competitive cost shared grant programme for commercialisation and an effort to remove barriers to technology deployment. Evaluation techniques for new technologies will be standardised, and access to federal facilities for testing improved.

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