Oregon PUC Exercises Primary Jurisdiction Over Executed PURPA Contract

On January 25, 2018, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (Oregon Commission) elected to take jurisdiction over a contract dispute between a qualifying facility (QF) Pacific Northwest Solar (PNW Solar) and Portland General Electric Company (PGE). The Oregon Commission became one of the only state agencies to conclude that it should resolve post-contract execution decisions and breaks from almost forty years of Oregon court case law in which QF contract disputes were resolved by the courts rather than an administrative agency.  

Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), nearly all states allow a state administrative agency like the Oregon Commission to resolve disputes between a QF and a utility prior to entering a contract. However, after the contract has been executed, nearly all states then require the courts to resolve any contractual disputes between the QF and a utility. Oregon has a long history of the courts adjudicating contract disputes and the Oregon Commission had never previously prevented a QF from having its post-contractual dispute resolved in court.

The decision is critically important for all Oregon QFs because the Oregon Commission is a friendly forum for utilities and has almost invariably decides to resolve pre-contract formation disputes in favor of the utilities. A QF’s remedies are also limited before the Oregon Commission because it has decided that it cannot award damages and the QF cannot have its dispute resolved by a jury.

Sanger Law represented PNW Solar.



These materials are intended to as informational and are not to be considered legal advice or legal opinion, nor do they create a lawyer-client relationship. Information included about previous case results does not assure a similar future result.