FERC on Thursday proposed to include solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), a technology commercialized in the last decade, as qualifying cogeneration facilities under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (RM21-2, RM20-20).
The commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would amend its regulations to add the on-site reformation process of SOFCs as “useful thermal energy output” under PURPA.
FERC issued the proposal in response to a petition from SOFC manufacturer Bloom Energy in August. The company said it was not seeking to force electric utilities to buy its output at avoided-cost rates. Rather, it wants to take advantage of PURPA’s provisions reducing barriers to entry for new technologies, including exemptions from regulation under the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 2005, exemptions from some Federal Power Act provisions governing rates and financial organization, and access to interconnection.
“It is in Bloom’s commercial interest to sell to willing buyers, be they commercial customers, electric utilities or others,” said the company, which said it has about 600 installed systems, averaging 600 kW each.