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Gov. Kasich vetoes bill that would weaken clean-energy standards
Ohio Governor John Kasich followed through with a promise he made earlier in 2016 to reject any further reduction to clean-energy standards (see our February 9, 2016 blog post) by vetoing House Bill 554, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The state’s standards for annual renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks were frozen in 2014 (see our June 13, 2014 blog post), but that freeze was due to expire at the end of 2016. House Bill 554, which passed both the House and Senate in December 2016, would have made energy efficiency and renewable energy standards “optional for the next two years, after which the mandates would have resumed,” according to the article. Gov. Kasich said the bill “amounts to self-inflicted damage to both our state’s near- and long-term economic competitiveness,” and said his veto was “in the public interest.” For more, read the full article.
“Submeter” companies can be regulated, PUCO rules
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently ruled that it has “authority to regulate ‘submeter’ companies in certain cases where consumers are clearly being overcharged,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. PUCO began investigating the practice of submetering a year ago after some consumers filed complaints about the increased prices they were paying for utilities, according to the Dispatch article. While some submeter companies “pass through the cost of utilities and charge consumers a billing fee,” others “buy utilities in bulk and resell for a profit” to residents in apartments or condominiums. It is the latter model that has generated most of the complaints (see our article Will a complaint to regulate submeters lead to the regulation of onsite distributed generation as public utilities?). Asim Haque, PUCO chairman, said, “It is our hope that the path we’ve charted today will serve to both discipline pricing in the submetering marketplace and provide a true venue for submetering customers to file their grievances.” For more, read the full article.
Movement on Camp Perry turbine project “rekindles” lawsuit
The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is again joining forces with northwest Ohio’s Black Swamp Bird Observatory “on a lawsuit to block the Ohio National Guard’s plan” for a $1.5 million commercial-scale wind turbine at Camp Perry, The Toledo Blade reports. The two groups sent a “notice of intent to file the lawsuit within 60 days unless the military agrees to nix its plans” for the project, according to the article. This action is in response to a concrete foundation being laid for the turbine before a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review of the turbine’s potential impacts has been completed. Stephanie Beougher, a public information officer for the Adjutant General’s Department in Columbus, said in a statement that the Ohio Air National Guard will continue to work to ensure that “if the project goes forward, it will be done in compliance with the applicable regulatory and legal requirements.” Michael Hutchins, ABC’s bird-smart wind energy campaign director, called the location “one of the most sensitive areas in the United States. Even a single turbine in the wrong place can have destructive impacts.” For more, read the full article.
State support for clean energy could bring thousands of jobs and millions in savings, report says
The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund recently released a report showing that “Ohio would gain thousands of jobs and consumers would save millions of dollars on utility bills if the state increases its support for clean-energy policies,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. That support could bring Ohio as much as $28.8 million to $50.9 million savings in consumers’ electricity bills by 2030 and as many as 82,300 to 136,000 new jobs, the report says. This forecast is “the latest of many from national environmental groups that make the case that Ohio would be wise, financially and otherwise, to embrace clean-energy technology,” according to the article. Those groups are looking ahead to the expiration of the two-year freeze on renewable energy and energy efficiency standards (see our June 13, 2014 blog post), while some state lawmakers “are trying to gather support for proposals that would extend the freeze or at least make the requirements optional in the short term (see our October 3, 2016 blog post).” For more, read the full article.
Amazon building second Ohio wind farm for $300 million
Amazon Web Services, Inc.’s latest plans for expansion in Ohio are “likely to raise the profile of Ohio’s wind industry,” as the company will build a second major wind farm in the state, The Toledo Blade reports. Amazon will invest $300 million in the 189-megawatt (MW) Amazon Wind Farm US Central 2 in Hardin County, according to the article. The company expects its first wind farm, the 100-MW Amazon Wind Farm US Central in Paulding County, to start producing electricity in May 2017, while the second wind farm “is expected to come online in December, 2017.” Amazon said in a statement it “supports proposed changes to the state’s current wind setbacks law to encourage more investment in new renewable wind power projects,” referring to HB 483, legislation enacted in 2014 that created “some of the nation’s most restrictive setback requirements for wind turbines,” the Blade reports. Peter DeSantis, Amazon Web Services vice president of infrastructure, said, “[w]e remain committed to achieving our long-term goal of powering the AWS Cloud with 100 percent renewable energy.” For more, read the full article.
AEP has plans to invest $1 billion in renewable energy
Columbus-based American Electric Power Company Inc. (AEP) is “dipping its toe” into the renewable energy business sector, with “plans to spend $1 billion” on renewables, Columbus Business First reports. Part of that total comes from AEP’s September 2016 sale of four power plants, three of them in Ohio, for $2.17 billion. The company has “formed two related subsidiaries, one that focuses on smaller-scale wind and solar projects and the other focused on larger projects,” according to the article. AEP Onsite Partners will target “solar projects that emit 1 to 5 megawatts of power and cost between $2 million and $15 million,” such as businesses, hospitals or schools that want to install rooftop solar systems. AEP Renewables will focus on utility-scale projects, “wind and solar farms whose power output is sold via long-term power purchase agreements to other utilities, cities and corporations that demand their businesses run on clean energy.” For more, read the full article.
Whirlpool investing $13.5 million to add more wind technology at Ohio plants
Whirlpool Corp. recently broke ground on “a $3.3-million wind-turbine project” at its Ottawa, Ohio freezer assembly plant, extending the company’s commitment to renewable energy, The Toledo Blade reports. The 1.5-megawatt (MW) turbine, built and funded by One Energy LLC of Findlay, “will generate more than 30 percent of the plant’s power needs,” according to the article. Whirlpool will also “build three wind turbines at its clothes dryer plant in Marion, Ohio,” which will provide 19 percent of that plant’s power needs. The company is investing a total of $13.5 million in wind technology for its Ohio plants. Ron Voglewede, global sustainability director for Whirlpool, said, “[w]ind power is a key component of our commitment to environmentally responsible operations and manufacturing. We’re also excited for the opportunity to put our global commitment to sustainability into practice at a local level here in Ohio — where we have made a significant commitment to manufacturing, including by employing approximately 10,000 manufacturing employees.” For more, read the full article.
First Solar exceeds profit estimate for sixth straight quarter
The largest U.S. solar equipment manufacturer, First Solar Inc., has exceeded analysts’ profit estimate for the sixth quarter in a row, The Toledo Blade reports. First Solar’s “only North American solar-panel factory is in Perrysburg Township” Ohio; the company “raised its full-year gross margin forecast for the fourth time,” according to the article. First Solar “said it expected gross margins between 25.5 percent to 26 percent, well above its previous range of 18.5 percent to 19 percent.” For more, read the full article.
ONU begins construction on $4-million, 2-MW solar field
By the end of 2016, construction should be complete on Ohio Northern University (ONU)’s new 2-megawatt solar field that “will generate ten percent of ONU’s annual electricity,” hometownstations.com reports. Gem Energy of Walbridge, Ohio, “will design, construct, operate and maintain the project” consisting of 18,000 panels that will follow the sun for “maximum solar harvest,” according to the article. “The students with the administration have really tried to direct ourselves towards saving as much in terms of the environment utilizing renewable sources of energy,” said Terry Keiser, Director of Sustainability for ONU. For more, read the full article.
OSU’s energy privatization plan attracts “world’s leading experts”
In a recent email to students, faculty and staff at The Ohio State University, the school said “some of the world’s leading experts in energy conservation and management want to help Ohio State meet our goals,” referring to OSU’s plan to privatize the management of its energy resources (see our March 1, 2016 blog post), Columbus Business First reports. The goal of OSU’s Comprehensive Energy Management Project is “for another entity or entities to focus on ‘non-core’ university assets (as in, not educational), and for the university to use revenue from the partnership on academic endeavors (see our March 5, 2015 blog post),” according to the article. OSU is “finalizing materials to send out requests for proposals” from six finalists identified during an application process (see our September 12, 2016 blog post) that began after OSU started exploring the possibility of privatization about two years ago. For more, read the full article.