The US Court of Appeals has ruled that an 80 MW (AC) / 160 MW (DC) solar plant with 50 MW of battery storage qualifies as a “qualifying facility” of 80 MW (AC) or less under public utility regulatory practices. Act (PURPA) of 1978.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that the size of a solar power plant’s alternating current (AC) is a technical consideration relevant to determining “qualified facility” status under PURPA. The lawsuit was filed by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
The case centered on Broadview Solar’s facility in Montana, which applied for an 80 MW (AC) Qualifying Facility electricity contract with the state under PURPA guidelines. The size of the plant was 80 MW (AC)/160 MW (DC) solar electricity and 50 MW/200 MWh batteries. Broadview Solar says the site includes 20 inverters of 4 MW (AC) each.
The Montana Public Utilities Commission’s original ruling in September 2020 stated that a solar plant should be based on its direct current (DC), which is the same way solar panels are rated. Broadview Solar argued that the grid power peak imposed by its inverters must be accounted for. The commission understood that this was a departure from previous logic, but they accepted it anyway. Broadview Solar appealed.
The Montana Supreme Court is dominated against the Commission’s apparent anti-solar bias. In March 2021, the commission reversed its earlier decision and instead found that the peak power of the utility’s grid was the motivation for the PURPA legislation.
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