What is a Qualifying Facility?
The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) was implemented to encourage, among other things,
- The conservation of electric energy.
- Increased efficiency in the use of facilities and resources by electric utilities.
- Equitable retail rates for electric consumers.
- Expeditious development of hydroelectric potential at existing small dams.
- Conservation of natural gas while ensuring that rates to natural gas consumers are equitable.
One of the ways PURPA set out to accomplish its goals was through the establishment of a new class of generating facilities that 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.
What Are the Benefits of QF Status?
QFs may enjoy certain benefits under Federal, State, and local laws. The benefits that are conferred upon QFs by Federal law generally fall into three categories:
- The right to sell energy or capacity to a utility.
- The right to purchase certain services from utilities.
- Relief from certain regulatory burdens.
How to Obtain QF Status for Your Facility
An owner or operator of a generating facility with a maximum net power production capacity of greater than 1 MW (1000 kW) may obtain QF status by either submitting a self-certification or applying for and obtaining a Commission certification of QF status, and must do so by completing and electronically filing a Form No. 556 with the Commission. The Form No. 556 can be downloaded, electronically completed, saved to your local computer or local network, and then submitted as an attachment to an eFiling submission (using the Commission's online eFiling system). The instructions on the first pages of the Form No. 556 itself contains additional details on how to file using eFiling. There is no fee with self-certifications, but there is a fee associated with applications for Commission certifications (see our Filing Fees schedule).
A self-certification of QF status under 18 C.F.R. § 292.207(a) must include a completed Form No. 556. The Form No. 556 must be downloaded, electronically completed, saved locally to your computer or network drive, and then attached as part of an eFiling submission to the Commission. There is no fee for filing a self-certification. Applicants submitting a self-certification must comply with the Notice Requirements for QF certification applications.
Applicants will be notified of their docket number by email once they have efiled. Keep this number for future reference. You will receive no other document from the Commission for self-certifications.
Applicants for self-certification can locate their filed documents and find their docket number by performing a New Dockets Search in eLibrary.
Application for Commission Certification
An application for Commission certification of QF status under 18 C.F.R. § 292.207(b) must include a completed Form No. 556. The Form No. 556 must be downloaded, electronically completed, saved locally to your computer or network drive, and then attached as part of an eFiling submission. Applicants must submit a filing fee with their application for Commission certification. The eFiling system will not process applications that require filing fees until the appropriate payment is made when prompted (the eFiling system will route the applicant to www.pay.gov to make their payment at the appropriate time during the eFiling submission). Filing fees can be paid by check or money order via ACH Credit transfer, wire payment, courier, or mail. Please visit our Filing Fees page for the most current filing fee. An applicant submitting an application for Commission certification must comply with the Notice Requirements for QF certification applications.
NOTE: All filers (including those submitting self-certifications and those submitting applications for Commission certification) are required to serve notice to the following entities.
- Each electric utility with which it expects to interconnect, transmit or sell electric energy to or purchase supplementary, standby, back-up and maintenance power.
- The state regulatory authority of each state where the facility and each affected utility is located.
A QF must file a recertification whenever the qualifying facility “fails to conform with any material facts or representations presented … in its submittals to the Commission.” 18 C.F.R. § 292.207(f).
Recertification by Solar PV Developers
Due to the unique nature of rooftop solar PV developers, the Commission will permit an alternate option to file their recertification applications as of December 31, 2020. Rather than be required to file for recertification each time the rooftop solar developer adds or removes a rooftop facility, a rooftop solar PV developer may recertify on a quarterly basis. The filing would be due within 45 days after the end of the calendar quarter. However, if in any quarter a rooftop solar PV developer either has no changes or only has changes of power production capacity of 1 MW or less, then it would not be required to recertify until it has accumulated changes greater than 1 MW total over the quarters since its last filing. Additionally, rooftop solar PV developers, like all small power production facilities, will not be subject to protests when they file recertifications that are “administrative only” in nature, but would be subject to such protests when they make substantive changes to the existing certification as detailed below.
Protesting a Form No. 556
As of December 31, 2020, a party may file a protest to a Form No. 556 without being required to file a separate petition for declaratory order and to pay the associated filing fee.
QF’s Response to a Protest
If a protest is filed against a QF’s Form No. 556, the QF will automatically receive an email notification through the eSubscription function notifying it that its Form No. 556 has been protested. The QF may file a response to the protest, providing additional information or arguments, within 30 days of the filing of the protest.
The Commission will respond to the protest and any QF answer within 90 days of the date the protest is filed, or can request more information from the protester, the entity seeking QF status, or both. If the Commission requests more information, the time period for the Commission order would be extended to 60 days from the filing of a complete answer to the information request. The Commission also may toll the 90-day period during which the Commission commits to act for one additional 60-day period. Absent Commission action by the date of the expiration of the tolling period, a protest will be deemed denied, and the self-certification or self-recertification will remain effective.
QF Preemptive Defense
As of December 31, 2020, an applicant also has the ability to defend preemptively against subsequent challenges, by identifying factors affirmatively demonstrating that its facility is indeed at a separate site from other affiliated small power production QFs using the same energy resource more than one mile but less than 10 miles from your facility.
Pursuant to 18 C.F.R. § 292.204(a)(2)(i)(C), if affiliated small power production QFs are more than one mile but less than 10 miles apart there is a rebuttable presumption that they are at separate sites. The factors listed below are examples of the factors that the Commission may consider in deciding whether small power production facilities that are owned by the same person(s) or its affiliates are located “at the same site”:
(1) physical characteristics, including such common characteristics as infrastructure, property ownership, property leases, control facilities, access and easements, interconnection agreements, interconnection facilities up to the point of interconnection to the distribution or transmission system, collector systems or facilities, points of interconnection, motive force or fuel source, off-take arrangements, connections to the electrical grid, evidence of shared control systems, common permitting and land leasing, and shared step-up transformers; and (2) ownership/other characteristics, including such characteristics as whether the facilities in question are owned or controlled by the same person(s) or affiliated persons(s), operated and maintained by the same or affiliated entity(ies), selling to the same electric utility, using common debt or equity financing, constructed by the same entity within 12 months, managing a power sales agreement executed within 12 months of a similar and affiliated small power production in the same location, placed into service within 12 months of an affiliated small power production QF project's commercial operation date as specified in the power sales agreement, or sharing engineering or procurement contracts.
A section of the new Form 556, which becomes December 31, 2020, will provide space for an applicant to write this optional, pre-emptive defense.
Major Qualifying Facility (QF) Orders
A listing of major orders listed by docket numbers.
Tips for Successful completion of the Form No. 556
If the Form No. 556 link appears to not be working, try right-clicking on the link.
Form 556 Version
A new version of the Form No. 556 incorporating changes approved by the Commission in Orders No. 872 and 872-A will be effective December 31, 2020. Any owner or operator of a generating facility submitting a self-certification or applying for a Commission certification of QF status must use the new version of the Form No. 556 on and after that date.
Lines 7a-7g request size information in kilowatts. One megawatt equals 1,000 kilowatts. For example, if a generation unit is 5 megawatts in size, it should be described in the form as 5,000 kilowatts in size.
Mark Public Redacted on the Form only when there is information to be considered as Privileged or CEII, page 4.
When a form is late-filed (i.e., after the facility has gone into operation as a QF, or after it has undergone significant changes requiring re-certification as a QF), state the reasons for the lateness in the Misc. section, line 19.
Geographic Coordinates and Calculation of Distance Between Facilities
Line 3c requires you to report your facility's geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude).
For line 8a, enter the geographic coordinates at the nearest edges of the electrical generating equipment at the small power production facility seeking QF status and at the affiliated small power production QF using the same energy resource.
The distances in line 8a and the Distance Calculator are automatically calculated using the coordinates supplied by the applicant and the Haversine formula.
Please report all geographic coordinates with three places beyond the decimal in decimal degrees. Please convert all coordinates reported in degrees, minutes and seconds to decimal degrees using the following formula: decimal degrees = degrees + (minutes/60) + (seconds/3600). All coordinates must be accompanied by a selection from the relevant dropdown menu: North (–) or South (+) for latitude and West (–) or East (+) for longitude. Please contact Commission staff at Form556@ferc.gov if you require assistance.
- FAQs: Qualifying Facilities (QF)
- Form No. 556 (updated 12/31/2020)
- 18 C.F.R. § 131.80
- 18 C.F.R. Part 292
- Filing Fees
- Order No. 732
- Cogeneration facilities order on rehearing Order No. 671-A
- Cogeneration facilities rulemaking finalized Order No. 671
- Order No. 872
- Order No. 872 News Release
- Order No. 872 Fact Sheet
- Order No 872-A
- Order No 872-A News Release