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Which way does the wind blow in Ohio? State’s wind rules under discussion, again
The winds of change may be blowing in Ohio, as lawmakers discuss another possible change to the state’s requirements for wind turbines, Columbus Business First reports. Ohio “was considered a highly attractive region for developers of large-scale wind farms” until legislative changes enacted stricter setback requirements (see our June 18, 2014 blog post) and froze renewable energy standards (see our June 13, 2014 blog post). Because of those changes, developers “dialed back” the wind industry’s future in Ohio to “cautiously optimistic,” according to the article. A new piece of legislation, Substitute House Bill 190, could regain some of the lost appeal by establishing a “wind corridor” in northwestern Ohio, which “would allow counties in the corridor to follow less restrictive setback requirements.” Amazon.com Inc.’s manager of U.S. public policy, John Stephenson, testified in favor of the bill; Amazon “has partnered with EDP Renewables to build a 100-megawatt wind facility in Paulding County (see our December 9, 2015 blog post).” For more, read the full article.
Clyde’s 3.6MW solar field saving the city $200,000
AEP Onsite Energy Partners built the 20-acre solar field that began commercial operations in Clyde on June 1, but the city is still saving money, reports the Sandusky Register. The 11,800 solar-celled panels “track the sun, one of the few solar fields in Ohio that does, providing optimal solar exposure,” City Manager Paul Fiser said. The 3.6 megawatts (MW) of electricity generated “result in a saving to the city of $200,000 in reduced transmission fees from other energy supplies,” according to the article. Additionally, the city will net $600,000 from AEP over the 20-year lease for use of the land. Fiser “loves saving money” and the partnership with AEP, as well as the “positive environmental impact,” saying, “[c]utting independence on fossil fuels — what is not good about green energy?” For more, read the full article.
Ohio’s low ranking in solar-power report due to politics, environmental group says
A bill signed two years ago has “stymied” solar power in the state, according to a group that released a new report ranking Ohio 29th in the country for solar power per capita, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The report, from Environment Ohio and “affiliated environmental advocacy groups,” shows Ohio has 10 watts of solar power per capita, which translates to “roughly one solar panel per 25 people.” Indiana, by comparison, “ranks 20th with 21 watts per person,” according to the article. Sam Gerard, a campaign organizer for Environment Ohio, said, “[t]he main thing we want to convey here is that solar power has potential to power our state. But we are still stymied by attacks from big utility companies that know solar jeopardized their industry.” When Senate Bill 310 was signed two years ago (see our June 13, 2014 blog post), it froze standards on renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks that required utilities to meet annual benchmarks for installing renewable energy including solar and wind power. At Environment Ohio’s recent event to mark the report’s release, Michael Smucker of Third Sun Solar was one of the speakers who “touted the economic benefits of solar power,” saying, “[i]t’s possible to preserve the planet and grow the economy at the same time.” For more, read the full article.
Despite court stay, EPA moves ahead with incentive program for Clean Power Plan
Despite the Supreme Court’s February 2016 order staying the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), the “Obama administration is moving ahead” with incentives for the program, reports thehill.com. The Clean Energy Incentive Program would “give states compliance credits for renewable energy and efficiency projects that are undertaken earlier than the Clean Power Plan would require them,” according to the article. Janet McCabe, head of the EPA’s air pollution office, said, “[t]aking these steps will help cut carbon pollution by encouraging investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, which will help give our kids and grandkids a healthier and safer future.” The EPA believes “actions like the incentive program and helping states voluntarily comply with the regulation are permissible under the court stay.” For more, read the full article.
Solar going big: large-scale installations now outpacing small ones
Solar power “is on pace for the first time this year to contribute more new electricity to the U.S. grid” than any other form of energy, a “feat driven more by economics than green mandates,” according to a recent article in The Toledo Blade. Large solar systems that sell directly to U.S. utilities are expected to make up “70 percent of new solar added to the grid this year.” The cost of electricity generated by large-scale solar installations “is now comparable to, and sometimes cheaper, than natural gas-fired power,” even without clean-energy incentives, according to the article. Unsubsidized, utility-scale solar power “costs $50 to $70 per megawatt-hour” to produce, compared to “$52 to $78 for the most efficient type of natural gas plant.” Cory Honeyman, who “follows the U.S. solar industry for market research firm GTM Research,” said, “[w]e are seeing large swaths of centralized utility scale solar be procured primarily because of how cost-competitive it is.” For more, read the full article.
Federal guidance announced for residential PACE programs
On July 19, 2016, the White House announced the Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative, a new partnership among several federal agencies designed to increase access to solar energy and promote energy efficiency. The new initiative has a goal of bringing 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar to low- and moderate- income families by 2020 through collaboration with state and local groups.
The White House also announced new steps that the federal agencies involved with the initiative are taking to promote energy efficiency financing. For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) are releasing guidance regarding how Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs can be used in conjunction with residential mortgages insured by the VA or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The Department of Energy (DOE) is releasing an updated draft of its Best Practices Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing that includes protections to consumers who voluntarily opt into residential PACE programs, as well as lenders who hold mortgages on residential properties with PACE assessments. The DOE is also providing assistance to support the design and implementation of new PACE programs, and creating the Community Solar Challenge to promote the development of innovative models that increase access to solar and energy efficiency programs, particularly in low-income communities.
For more, read the full White House press release.
Wind and solar prices could drop dramatically by 2025, report says
Average costs for solar- and wind-generated electricity could drop by as much as 26% to 59% by 2025 under the right regulatory frameworks, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), nawindpower.com reports. The report, “‘The Power to Change: Solar and Wind Cost Reduction Potential to 2025,’ estimates that by 2025, in comparison to 2015, average electricity costs could decrease 59% for solar photovoltaics, 35% for offshore wind and 26% for onshore wind,” according to the article. IRENA’s director-general, Adnan Z. Amin, said while there have already been dramatic decreases in costs for solar and wind power in recent years, “this report shows that prices will continue to drop, thanks to different technology and market drivers.” Those cost reductions “will depend increasingly on balance-of-system costs,” as well as operations and maintenance costs, technology innovations, and project management. Amin said, “[t]o continue driving the energy transition, we must now shift policy focus to support areas that will result in even greater cost declines and thus maximize the tremendous economic opportunity at hand.” For more, read the full article, or click here to read the full report.
Utilities’ pursuit of clean energy is “right thing to do,” says PUCO chairman
As electric utilities such as American Electric Power (AEP) continue to add clean energy to their portfolios (see our May 24, 2016 blog post), the new chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), Asim Haque, said doing so is “the right ‘social principle,’” according to a recent article in Columbus Business First. In the article, Haque said, “I think the social principle that [clean energy advocates] are advocating is the right thing to do, but it has to be balanced and tempered with these other major (commission) policy considerations of delivering reliable power and cost-effective power. That’s where things get challenging.” While coal “makes up 56 percent” of AEP’s current generating mix, both AEP and Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. have “waged lengthy campaigns at the commission over income-guarantees to keep open their Ohio coal plants (see our May 21, 2015 blog post).” For more, read the full article.
Logan County rejects incentives for wind turbines
Only the Hardin County portion of the proposed $350 million Scioto Ridge Wind Farm project will move forward, after Logan County commissioners rejected a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) plan for the wind farm, The Lima News reports. The original 105 turbines will now be reduced to the 87 planned for Hardin County, as “Hardin Wind, a subsidiary of EverPower Wind Holdings Inc. based in Pittsburgh, Pa., has chosen to forego the Logan County portion of the project due to the rejection,” according to the article. Logan County commissioners listed several reasons for the rejection in the resolution they passed, including a public meeting at which approximately 40 citizens “spoke against the project with only the wind developer speaking in favor,” and questions about the application not listing the number of jobs or the amount of tax revenue the project would bring. The commissioners also “spelled out their disappointment with some reactions from the public who were in opposition of the project.” Electricity from the Hardin County turbines will be sold on the open market; EverPower estimated “the project will generate up to $37 million over the 25-year life of the project” for the county and local school districts. For more, read the full article.
American Renewable Energy & Power nominated for an IREC 3i Award. Vote now!
Recognizing the company’s role in developing Minster, Ohio’s municipal solar and storage facility (the largest in the country), Bricker client American Renewable Energy & Power has been nominated for an IREC 3i Award for “State and Local Government Achievement of the Year.” The yearly honor spotlights innovative state or local government policies, programs, regulations and legislation that advance the sustainable growth of clean energy jobs and infrastructure. The Minster solar/storage facility is an unique approach to servicing energy customers and is expected to bring energy stability, sustainability and cost saving benefits to the village.
Public voting for the prestigious award is open to the public through June 17. Place your vote here.