CPUC Backs Uniform Contract for Small Renewables

By Published On: May 24, 2013

After several postponements, the California Public Utilities Commission May 23 approved on a 4-0 vote a standard, transparent utility contract for small renewable deals. The so-called “feed-in tariff” for developers of independent alternative projects up to 5 MW makes way for a “more uniform and fluid market and reduces the costs of small-scale renewable suppliers,” said Commissioner Mark Ferron, who authored the decision. “The renewables community has waited far too long.” Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric are to offer the same standardized contract, which is expected to expedite the deals and reduce the need for generators to hire contract lawyers. The new decision applies to renewable solicitations to be held every two months for up to 5 MW by PG&E and Edison and 3 MW for SDG&E. Contracts are to be for five, 10 or 20 years. The commissioners agreed the newly-adopted program balances the joint needs of small developers for streamlined agreements and utility cost controls. Some have complained that the feed-in-tariff program is too small. Ferron said staff would monitor the new program and its costs before considering an expansion. Unlike the competing proposal that did not garner any votes, Ferron’s alternative gives the utilities latitude as to how to add back into their small renewable feed-in tariff programs megawatts from terminated deals. Edison has over-procured small renewable deals. Ferron said that matter is to be addressed elsewhere, not in the existing feed-in-tariff program. Feed-in tariff agreements aim to ease the contract opportunities for smaller alternative energy projects and help utilities meet their 33 percent renewables obligation.

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