Case Summary Citation

Solar Energy Industries Association v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 80 F.4th 956 (9th Cir. 2023)


In Solar Energy Industries Association v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Solar Energy”), the court grappled with a complex web of regulatory and environmental considerations. The overall dispute was the promulgation and implementation of Order 872, a directive issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”), and its alignment with the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) and the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). The dispute in Solar Energy is about FERC’s interpretation and application of PURPA in managing qualifying facilities (“QFs”). The crux of the contention was whether FERC’s 2020 rule revisions set forth in Order 872 were proper and whether FERC had sidestepped environmental safeguards stipulated by the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) by neglecting to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

The case holds significant importance due to its potential environmental impact. If, as FERC predicts, there is an increase of small power production facilities, there would be an increase in renewable energy. In turn, leading to a substantial decrease in our dependence on fossil fuels, which would have the dual benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. Furthermore, the shift towards renewable energy could stimulate economic growth by creating new jobs in the renewable energy sector. However, if as petitioners assert, the rule disincentivizes QF status or disqualifies more facilities than the prior rule, it could potentially lead to a decrease in renewable energy generation and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which would have negative environmental impacts. In essence, this ruling could have far-reaching impacts, shaping the future of renewable energy in the United States.



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