Heartland assisting customers with PURPA requirements

December 3, 2015

Small renewable energy projects continue to rise in popularity and more and more homeowners and business owners are looking into generating a portion of their own electricity. As a utility, there are certain requirements you must meet if this happens in your community and Heartland has taken steps to ensure your utility is in compliance.

The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) requires utilities to buy energy from and sell energy to qualifying renewable energy projects. This law was enacted to encourage co-generation and small power production in hopes of expanding renewable energy. PURPA also requires your utility to provide interconnection. As a result, you must have a published avoided cost and standby rate.

As more qualifying facilities come online, it can be challenging for small municipal utilities to ensure all the correct steps are being taken and the law is being followed. Heartland wants to help our customers with this process.

Heartland has filed a Motion for Waiver with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to define both Heartland’s and your utility’s roles regarding PURPA. In addition, Heartland wants to assist in making sure good policy is in place for your utility; a void we identified in many of our customer utilities. Be sure that if renewable projects haven’t already popped up in your community, they will soon.

Heartland’s Motion for Waiver asks for two things. First, it asks that Heartland be allowed to purchase power, at our avoided cost, directly from any qualifying facility that generates energy for use on the grid. We feel we are better situated to shoulder this responsibility and should the situation arise, would save our customers both hassle and expense. Second, since you operate your own facilities, the Motion for Waiver requests that you have the obligation to provide interconnection with a qualifying facility and sell energy at retail to that facility as the opportunity arises.

In order to accomplish these two things, we need our customers to implement an Interconnection Policy, which we have sent to all of our customers. This policy needs to be adopted into your electric code or duly authorized in your official ordinances. For applications where a standby rate is needed, Heartland has developed a wholesale standby rate to use in the development of your rate. Heartland has revised our Interconnection of Facilities policy to outline these Motion for Waiver requests as well as govern purchases made from qualifying facilities.

By assisting with this process and shouldering some of the responsibility, Heartland hopes we are more clearly defining what needs to be done should a qualifying renewable project arise in your community. If you have any questions about the next steps required, please contact Heartland Chief Operations Officer Nate Jones or Customer Relations Manager Steve Moses at (605) 256-6536.