Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules in favor of clean energy growth

On behalf of 14 partner groups, SELC recently helped secure an important win for increasing access to solar and other clean energy sources across the nation. (© SELC/Bill Sublette)

On June 16, SELC helped score a significant victory that will bolster the growth of clean energy in the Southeast, and across the nation.

In 2015, the Delta-Montrose Electric Association—a rural, member-owned electric cooperative in Colorado—filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Delta-Montrose asked FERC to confirm that federal law gives it – and other electric cooperatives – the ability to purchase power from independent power producers, which include solar and other clean energy facilities, even if doing so would decrease the amount of power they purchase from their primary bulk energy providers. By purchasing power from the independent producers, cooperatives can reduce reliance on fossil-fuel generation, increase clean energy supply, help make renewable energy more accessible to their members, and boost regional economic development by creating jobs.

In June 2015, FERC ruled in Delta-Montrose’s favor, and against the large utility that sells power to Delta-Montrose and 44 electric co-ops across five western states, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. 

But Tri-State posed a new hurdle earlier this year, when it filed its own petition at FERC.  Tri-State sought authority to impose a penalty on Delta-Montrose and its other member co-ops that purchased power as permitted by the FERC order. The large utility claimed the penalty was necessary to recovery lost revenue from its members.

In March, SELC took the lead in submitting comments on behalf of 14 partner groups in support of Delta-Montrose’s legal obligation to buy power from solar and other clean energy facilities without the imposition of a penalty from it supplier. Two weeks ago, FERC agreed and issued a clear rejection of Tri-State’s petition, and referenced arguments made in SELC and partners’ comments. FERC’s order confirms that electric cooperatives and municipal utilities may purchase power from small energy providers under federal law, despite restrictive contracts with their bulk suppliers that limit the ability of co-ops and municipal utilities to choose the source of their power.

This ruling is nationally significant, but is especially important for the Southeast, where municipal utilities and electric co-ops serve more customers than in most other parts of the country. Now, these significant Southern energy providers, and their customers, have more freedom to choose where they get their power and can seek new opportunities for solar power and other clean energy resources across the region. 

More News

2019 trends making and braking rooftop solar in the South

Solar is booming across the South as more homeowners turn to clean, affordable rooftop solar to meet their energy needs, and as state policy make...

Hikes that have our hearts at Shenandoah Mountain

Rugged trails, sparkling lakes, forest covered mountains, crystal trout streams, rocky cliffs. This is what makes Virginia’s Shenandoah Mountain...

SELC goes Above & Beyond to protect our health and environment

This has been an impressive year of results, even by the Southern Environ­mental Law Center’s historically high standards. Our solar initiative i...

Google permit to triple its freshwater use upsets S.C. neighbors

A request from internet giant Google to siphon up to 1.5 million gallons of water per day from a Berkeley County aquifer that provides drinking w...

Virginia’s already-approved program to cut carbon emissions needs budget restriction lifted

When it comes to addressing climate change caused by carbon emissions in Virginia, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that...

Cut Virginia Carbon

Virginians, we have the power to ensure clean air, protect health, and build a healthy economy in our state.  By signing the petition below, you...

More Stories