Section 210 of PURPA as Seen from a National Policy Implementation Perspective

James A. Throgmorton.1984. In R.W. Lawton (ed.), Proceedings of the Fourth NARUC Biennial Regulatory Information Conference. Columbus: National Regulatory Research Institute: 445-467.

This paper articulated and applied a “national public policy implementation” theoretical framework. Building upon that framework, the paper then derived and tested several expectations (or hypotheses) about the nature and products of Section 210’s implementation. After reviewing the process by which President Carter’s energy advisors initiated the policy, the study then followed Section 210 through a number of important steps: adoption by Congress, rule-making by the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC); compliance efforts by the Southern California Edison Company (SoCal Edison); efforts to develop grid-connected wind energy systems in the San Gorgonio Pass near Palm Springs, California; efforts to shape policy in the federal courts; and finally back to Congress where several organizations tried to amend the policy in diverse ways.

Concluding that national policy implementation must be relied on, even if it does introduce a degree of inefficiency, I asked, how might that process be altered to improve the quality of Section 210’s implementation? The evidence presented in the paper suggested that these key changes deserve consideration. First, electric utilities should not be given major responsibility for implementing Section 210. Second, some form of public assistance should be provided to groups representing homeowners, small business people, and the owners of very small power production facilities. Third, agency administrators should explore innovative mechanisms of expanding the language and conceptual foundation of their deliberations.

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