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by Emma Foehringer Merchant
May 11, 2020

The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, a 1978 law commonly referred to as PURPA, has encouraged the build-out of about 6 gigawatts of large-scale solar in the U.S. Two-thirds of that total is in California.

But the Golden State has been on the wrong side of the law since 2017, when a court ruled that the state’s Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff (ReMAT) program, which guided the development of projects 3 megawatts or smaller, violated PURPA’s requirements. A higher court affirmed that ruling last year.

In a unanimous vote last week, the state’s Public Utilities Commission approved a new program intended to bring the state into compliance with PURPA. Solar developers hope the decision will clear the way for new contracts as California plods toward its target of 100 percent clean energy by 2045.  

“This will get the utilities back in the business of procuring,” Ed Smeloff, director of grid integration at advocacy organization Vote Solar, told Greentech Media. “It will reinvigorate PURPA in California.”