Chip Cannon Quoted in Law360 on Fate of PURPA

Law360 has quoted Chip Cannon, co-chair of Akin Gump’s energy regulation, markets and enforcement practice, in the article “Shift Toward Renewables Sparks Midlife Crisis For PURPA.”  The article reports on last week’s confirmation hearing for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) member Robert Powelson, who asked Congress to revise the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA)’s mandate that utilities buy electricity from small-scale producers.

The article notes that the law was enacted nearly 40 years ago following the global oil embargo. It was updated in 2005 to ease some requirements on utilities, but some now wonder whether the law is still relevant or necessary.

Referring to Powelson and President Trump’s other FERC nominee, Neil Chatterjee, Cannon said, “They’re coming in under an administration that has very clearly stated views with respect to renewables and baseload generation. So I would be surprised if we’re not entering an era at FERC where everything is on the table. We could see pretty dramatic policy shifts, and PURPA could be one of the policies affected.”

As for any possible changes to the law, whether through legislation or regulation, the article states that something will have to give in order to provide clarity to utilities and power developers. “PURPA is always highly litigated,” Cannon said. “It’s litigated at the states, at the courts and at FERC. At some point, it creates a lack of certainty.”