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Congressman Tim Walberg

Representing the 7th District of Michigan

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Walberg Introduces Legislation to Modernize PURPA, Lower Costs for Electricity Consumers

November 29, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07) today introduced the PURPA Modernization Act of 2017 to reform the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and help lower utility bills for American families. As part of his work on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Walberg has extensively examined the statute and heard feedback on the need to modernize PURPA for the 21st century. 
 
“Energy markets have changed significantly over the last 40 years, and many challenges of that era no longer exist,” said Congressman Walberg. “With new innovations and advancements in technology, today’s energy markets are more diverse and domestic energy resources are abundant instead of scarce. It’s time to modernize PURPA with these new realities in mind. For consumers in Michigan and across the country, these commonsense reforms will go a long ways toward bringing down their utility bills.”
 
Enacted almost 40 years ago, PURPA was written at a time when the energy landscape was vastly different than today. The law’s outdated regulatory burdens do not reflect the current competitive market conditions, while driving up electricity costs. H.R. 4476, the PURPA Modernization Act of 2017, brings this decades-old law into the 21st century, fosters greater competition, and stops the gaming of a federal law at the expense of electricity customers to provide more affordable and reliable energy.
 
“We take very seriously our commitment to keeping energy costs affordable for our customers while ensuring a clean energy future. We believe these goals can be achieved together with the help of the PURPA Modernization Act, and that it will have an added bonus of attracting new jobs and businesses to our great state,” said Patti Poppe, President and CEO of Michigan’s Consumers Energy. “PURPA is an outdated policy that is causing our customers to pay around 30-50% over market value for energy provided by Qualifying Facilities. In fact, over 10 years, Consumers Energy customers subsidized PURPA facilities to the tune of $300 million above market price.”
 
“Michigan’s electric cooperatives support Rep. Walberg’s legislation to reform PURPA,” said Craig Borr, CEO of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA). “There are many Michigan examples where electric utilities are currently purchasing electricity from PURPA projects at costs well above the market cost of electricity and thus reform is critical to bring down costs for electricity consumers in our state.”
 
About H.R. 4476, the PURPA Modernization Act of 2017

  • Prevents abuse of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) one-mile rule to ensure that two or more facilities located more than one mile apart are independent.
  • Lowers the 20 Megawatt threshold mandatory purchase obligation to reflect increased competition in electricity markets since PURPA was enacted.
  • Empowers state public utility commissions to waive the mandatory purchase obligation on a case-by-case basis if additional power is not required to meet customers’ electricity needs. 

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