ASHTA Chemicals $100M project will upgrade energy efficiency and environmental friendliness

A chemical products manufacturer in Ashtabula Township “has started work on a $100 million project” to improve its energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, the Star Beacon reports. ASHTA Chemicals makes “chlorine and potassium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid and other chemical products used for water treatment, pharmaceuticals, batteries, industrial cleaners and fertilizers,” according to the article. The company “has been using a mercury cell process to make its products” for decades, but will switch to a “membrane cell technology” process, which will eliminate the use of mercury and reduce energy costs “by about 25 percent.” ASHTA President Brad Westfall said, “[t]his investment will allow us to operate our facility long into the future with significantly improved energy efficiency and increased production capacity,” as well as eliminating the use of mercury. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Manufacturing, Logistics & Transp.

Duke Energy’s proposed fee increase would hinder consumers’ efforts to save on energy

Using less electricity lowers your monthly utility bill, or at least it should. If Duke Energy’s proposal “to significantly raise its ‘customer fees’ is approved,” that might not be the case for many Cincinnati consumers, according to a recent opinion piece. Shannon Baker-Branstetter, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, writes that Duke Energy plans “to nearly quadruple these fixed customer fees — from about $72 a year to over $270 a year — even if energy use decreases.” Fixed or base fees apply to every customer, “in addition to separate fees that depend on how much energy you use.” Raising the fixed fees would erode the savings from energy-efficiency or energy-saving measures. According to the article, “dozens of Cincinnati residents” protested Duke’s proposal at recent public hearings. A similar recent proposal from AEP Ohio was dropped after Columbus residents protested. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency

Critics say PJM pricing system could “prop up” nuclear and coal-fired plants in Ohio

Proposed changes to PJM Interconnection’s energy pricing system “could reward coal and nuclear plants in Ohio” and raise prices for consumers, critics say, according to a recent article. PJM’s plan “would basically let coal and nuclear power plants take part in the process for setting the price of electricity in the wholesale market,” something they currently are not permitted to do “because they can’t ramp up quickly and generally must produce large chunks of electricity, rather than incremental amounts,” according to the article. The formula PJM has been using for the past couple decades “looks at both where a resource is and what its costs are for supplying increments of electricity needed in the region.” In a November 15 report, PJM noted “some generation sources, such as wind, can now have a zero marginal cost,” while the falling price of natural gas also lowers marginal costs for plants that use it for fuel. Stu Bresler, PJM vice president, said the “new pricing plan would be ‘more reflective of all the costs that are necessary to serve the demands on the system.’” For more, read the full article.

Transmission, Wind

Will PUCO’s new net metering rules hinder solar’s growth in Ohio?

Environmental advocates are concerned about Ohio’s new net metering rules that change “how utilities compensate customers who supply their own excess generation to the grid,” reports. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) released the new rules, which “would not credit customers with the ‘capacity’ portion of their overall rate” for that excess generation, but would credit them “just the energy-only portion . . . about 85 percent of the bundled rate,” according to the article. This change represents “a shift from the PUCO’s previous position”; in 2014, the PUCO “moved to require utilities to compensate net metering customers for the full retail rate.” The new rules also could “discourage customers from shopping for competitive rates or switching electricity suppliers,” because they “provide only for credits against future charges, rather than direct payment of amounts due.” Customers who shop for a different supplier would risk losing the value of credits they’ve earned. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission

Groups work together to create and expand Akron Summit County ESID

The Development Finance Authority of Summit County (DFA), along with Summit County and Akron, Barberton and Coventry Township, teamed up to create and expand the Akron Summit County Energy Special Improvement District (ESID), according to a recent DFA newsletter. The ESID enables property owners “to finance energy efficiency improvements” such as lighting, heating and air conditioning, new windows and roofing through a special property assessment, the article reports. Energy efficiency projects “can be financed in a number of ways,” including through a Northern Ohio Public Energy Consortium (NOPEC) revolving loan fund, “DFA Jobs & Investment Bond Fund and various private lenders.” Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro said the plan is to continue working “to expand the ESID to all Summit County communities within the next year.” 


Energy Efficiency, Funding Opportunities, Project Finance

Solar project will supply a third of Monroeville’s power

The village of Monroeville is partnering with Eitri Foundry to create a solar park at the Monroeville Reservoir, a project that should “power about a third” of the village, the Norwalk Reflector reports. Village council president pro-tem Chris Raferty said the Monroeville Solar Park “will decrease our usage costs incrementally.” Local contractors “are placing about 15,000 solar panels on 18 acres,” and EHOVE Career Center students have been working on the job site twice a week, doing both hands-on tasks and learning trade coordination, according to the article. The park will have “a 360-degree, controllable live-feed camera” which will monitor the solar field and “keep track of ‘the clear view of the western horizon to monitor for severe weather,’” in coordination with NOAA Weather Service in Cleveland and “the local SKYWARN team.” For more, read the full article


Renewable Energy, Solar

New Concord adopts solar-related ordinance, proposes another for wind energy

New Concord’s Village Council has adopted “an ordinance modifying the zoning code” that will “pave the way for the construction of a solar array at the Garland Commons development,” The Daily Jeff reports. Additionally, the council “is considering an ordinance that would green light the construction of wind turbines at the site,” according to the article. While New Concord already had zoning language that permitted some solar systems, the modifications “will allow for conditional use of solar arrays a little larger” than previously permitted, Councilman Bil Kerrigan said. There are no current provisions for wind turbines, so the council will “offer three readings” of that ordinance to allow time for public comment. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind

Whirlpool adding wind turbines at Greenville plant

Whirlpool Corp. is adding to its on-site wind energy power already in use at its manufacturing facilities in Marion, Findlay, and Ottawa (see our November 16, 2016 blog post for more), with the announcement that the company will build three new turbines at its Greenville plant, the Dayton Daily News reports. The Greenville turbines “will generate more than 12 million kilowatt hours annually to offset approximately 70 percent of the plant’s electricity consumption,” the article reports. Additionally, Whirlpool said the wind farms will make the company “one of the largest users of on-site wind energy of any Fortune 500 company in the United States.” For more, read the full article

Manufacturing, Logistics & Transp., Renewable Energy, Wind

New Lima Energy Special Improvement District would help businesses fund energy upgrades

Several groups are working together to help Lima create an Energy Special Improvement District (ESID) so businesses can get help funding “utility and energy efficiency improvements,” The Lima News reports. Lima City Council “will vote on approving” the ESID recently created “under the lead of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce,” according to the article. Chamber President and CEO Jed Metzger said, “[t]o do an energy improvement district, you have to have a lead organization . . . to do the energy audit” and to do the energy upgrades. The district “would work with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority to secure funds for small businesses to improve such areas as lighting and heat as well as energy efficiency improvements, such as new windows or even roof work.” For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance

Will Icebreaker be epicenter of North American wind industry or bird killer?

Supporters and opponents of the Lake Erie Icebreaker Wind project voiced their opinions at a recent hearing before two administrative law judges, reports. Of the approximately 150 people in attendance, supporters “comprised the clear majority,” according to the article. Dennis Meaney, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 38 business manager, said, “Icebreaker can help make Northeast Ohio the epicenter of the wind industry in North America.” Additionally, “[n]early a dozen business representatives spoke in support of the economic benefits” of the project, which could “create more than 500 jobs, add $168 million to the region’s economy, and cheap green electricity for decades.” Leading the argument against Icebreaker was Kimberly Kaufman, executive director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, the group that “successfully blocked the construction” of Camp Perry’s proposed wind turbine (see our July 17, 2017 blog post). For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Wind
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