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What is a Qualifying Facility?


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The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) was implemented to encourage, among other things,

  1. The conservation of electric energy,
  2. Increased efficiency in the use of facilities and resources by electric utilities,
  3. Equitable retail rates for electric consumers,
  4. Expeditious development of hydroelectric potential at existing small dams, and
  5. Conservation of natural gas while ensuring that rates to natural gas consumers are equitable.

One of the ways PURPA External Link set out to accomplish its goals was through the establishment of a new class of generating facilities which would receive special rate and regulatory treatment. Generating facilities in this group are known as qualifying facilities (QFs), and fall into two categories: qualifying small power production facilities and qualifying cogeneration facilities.

A small power production facility is a generating facility of 80 MW or less whose primary energy source is renewable (hydro, wind or solar), biomass, waste, or geothermal resources. There are some limited exceptions to the 80 MW size limit that apply to certain facilities certified prior to 1995 and designated under section 3(17)(E) of the Federal Power Act (FPA External Link) (16 U.S.C. § 796(17)(E) External Link), which have no size limitation. In order to be considered a qualifying small power production facility, a facility must meet all of the requirements of 18 C.F.R. §§ 292.203(a) External Link, 292.203(c) External Linkand 292.204 External Link for size and fuel use, and be certified as a QF pursuant to 18 C.F.R. § 292.207 External Link.

A cogeneration facility is a generating facility that sequentially produces electricity and another form of useful thermal energy (such as heat or steam) in a way that is more efficient than the separate production of both forms of energy. For example, in addition to the production of electricity, large cogeneration facilities might provide steam for industrial uses in facilities such as paper mills, refineries, or factories, or for HVAC applications in commercial or residential buildings. Smaller cogeneration facilities might provide hot water for domestic heating or other useful applications. In order to be considered a qualifying cogeneration facility, a facility must meet all of the requirements of 18 C.F.R. §§ 292.203(b) External Link and 292.205 External Link for operation, efficiency and use of energy output, and be certified as a QF pursuant to 18 C.F.R. § 292.207 External Link. There is no size limitation for qualifying cogeneration facilities.


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Updated: February 3, 2012