Here is the email I sent late Friday, May 18, 2018:
David Snow, Mayor [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Jamie Lopeman, Council President [email@example.com]
A.J. Sickman, City Attorney [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Randy Baker, RP&L General Manager [RandyB@rp-l.com]
My name is Laura Ann Arnold and I am writing to you as the President of Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance or IndianaDG. IndianaDG is a membership organization working to promote renewable energy and distributed generation. Our members include rooftop solar installers, utility scale solar developers, wind, biomass and combined heat and power companies as well as individual homeowners who own solar systems or want to install solar and various other non-profits and educational groups. IndianaDG has worked with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) as well as the Indiana General Assembly concerning net metering and other related issues.
We have been reviewing the revised proposed Ordinance #032-2018 concerning net metering, interconnection standards and matters concerning Qualifying Facilities (QFs) which is scheduled for First Reading at the Richmond Common Council's upcoming meeting on Monday evening May 21, 2018.
Reviewing the proposed Ordinance, we believe it would be best to table action until several things can be resolved, which I will describe as follows:
- The 10th WHEREAS clause or paragraph of the proposed Ordinance lists Order in Cause No. 44898 by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) as authority for IMPA to assume various obligations of RP&L "to purchase energy and capacity by a Qualifying Facility under 170 IAC 4-4.1, thus rendering the CG Rate obsolete."
- I understand that this IURC order does NOT provide IMPA with that necessary authority. Rather, only the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the authority to grant IMPA’s request. In reviewing the FERC website, it does not appear that IMPA has even requested such authority yet.
- Although IMPA may do so in the near future, it appears that Proposed Ordinance #32-2018 is premature at best unless and until IMPA does actually request and receive such FERC approval.
- I think it is advisable to understand the full extent and ramifications if the City of Richmond and RP&L are relinquishing this authority to IMPA. I believe the time to revisit this matter is BEFORE IMPA requests this authority from FERC.
- I further understand there may be some misunderstanding and/or misinformation concerning RP&L's ability to purchase power via net metering or QF contracts. I understand that RP&L believes its hands are tied concerning this given that they are an all source purchaser of power from IMPA. There are recent decisions which make it clear that is not true.
- In support of the foregoing please find attached the following documents:
The first document attached is a 3/27/2018 FERC Order granting IMPA’s request to reduce its purchase obligation from 80 MW QFs to 20 MW QFs. This is separate and distinct from the authority alleged in the proposed Ordinance.
The second document attached is a 11/28/2017 FERC Order granting Wabash Valley Power’s request to assume the PURPA purchase obligation of its members. To date, IMPA has not filed a similar request with FERC.
The third document is 18 C.F.R. 292.402, which is what authorizes FERC to grant the relief obtained in the second document. This regulation does not appear to provide the IURC any authority to grant the relief by IMPA in Cause No. 44898. It appears to only provide FERC such authority.
The fourth document is a 6/18/2015 FERC Order that stands for the proposition that a member co-op can use PURPA to get around its “all-requirements” contract with its generation and transmission co-op.
The fifth document is a 6/16/2016 FERC Order that is a sequel to the fourth document. In that order, FERC stated that G&T coops cannot unfairly charge member coops in a way that dissuades them from contracting with QFs.
There are a number of other issues which I would like to discuss at the appropriate time.
I think that first it must be determined whether or not this matter is ready for any action by the Richmond City Council at the Monday, May 21st meeting. Hence, I believe it would be ill-advised to proceed with first reading of Ordinance #032-2018 on 5/21/18.
It does not appear that there is a downside to taking more time to study and discuss this issue before the Council takes any action. Many communities find that renewable energy policies such as net metering are valuable tools in economic development and quality of life factors. It appears that Richmond is just now beginning to explore the many benefits of customer-owned and operated renewable energy systems such as rooftop solar utilizing net metering.
I realize these are complex and highly technical issues. I am happy to discuss this further and/or to provide suggestions of appropriate legal counsel familiar with such matters to explain further.
Thank you for your attention and thoughtful consideration of my request.
Laura Ann Arnold
Laura Ann Arnold, President
Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance
545 E. Eleventh Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202-2627
(317) 502-5123 cell