Several groups helping make Northeast Ohio greener

Businesses and nonprofits in Northeast Ohio are increasingly looking to reduce energy costs and lessen their environmental impact; environmentalists and other advocates say several organizations are helping make that happen, Cleveland.com reports. KeyBank’s Key4Green business segment is “a group of bankers who understand the (renewable energy) industry, and they help clients understand tax implications and the tax credits available,” the article reports. The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation is in the permitting process to build six offshore wind turbines several miles off the Lake Erie coast (see our August 25, 2017 blog post). Rust Belt Riders “collect food waste that would normally go into the garbage and distribute it” to urban farmers and community gardeners to use as fertilizer, diverting the waste from landfills. The Cleveland 2030 District is a nonprofit that “helps building owners and property managers reduce their electricity use and lower CO2 emissions.” For more, read the full article.  

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Renewable Energy, Wind

Akron PNC Center begins $8.5M PACE-financed energy efficiency project

The 23-story PNC Center in downtown Akron has begun work on an $8.5-million energy-efficiency improvement project funded through property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, the Akron Beacon-Journal reports. A 25,000-pound aging chiller and two boilers will be removed and replaced with more efficient heating and cooling systems. The project also includes new lighting and other energy-efficient upgrades. The Development Finance Authority of Summit County (DFA) is issuing bonds to finance the project; those bonds will be repaid over 18 years at an average rate of about $477,000 annually. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance

Cincinnati ranks in top five solar cities in Midwest

Environment Ohio's Shining Cities 2018 report shows Cincinnati is "the leading solar city" in Ohio as well as one of the "top five solar cities in the Midwest," Soapbox Cincinnati reports. The report categorizes Cincinnati as a "Solar Leader," meaning the city has between 25 and 50 watts of solar photovoltaics (PV) installed per capita. "Solar Leader" is the second-highest designation a city can earn. For more, read the full article or click here for the full report.

Renewable Energy, Solar

FirstEnergy subsidiary asks federal government to rescue nuclear plants, declares bankruptcy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is likely to have the final say on whether FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. is able to continue producing power at its nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a recent article in The Washington Post. FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary of Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy, announced plans to shut down its Perry, Davis-Besse, and Beaver Valley nuclear plants, which collectively account for a steady stream of about 4 billion watts of electricity. After making that announcement, the company filed an emergency request with the DOE asking for help to keep the three nuclear plants as well as some coal-fired plants operating. Regional grid operator PJM Interconnection had previously stated the nuclear plants were not needed to maintain grid reliability (see our July 3, 2017 blog post). After FirstEnergy Solutions submitted the request to the DOE, the company declared bankruptcy, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. That filing does not involve FirstEnergy “or its distribution, transmission, regulated generation and Allegheny Energy Supply subsidiaries,” according to the Beacon Journal. For more, read the full Washington Post and Akron Beacon Journal articles.  

Transmission

Can OSU’s carbon-capture technology help coal compete with renewables?

Coal-direct chemical looping (CDCL), a “promising technology under development at The Ohio State University,” can convert fossil fuels, including coal, into electricity without creating carbon dioxide pollution, Energy News Network reports. David Kraft, a fellow with power company Babcock & Wilcox, which is partnering with the university, said CDCL “has potential to transform the power and petrochemical industries,” according to the article. The technology involves metal oxide particles passing through high-pressure reactors to burn coal, biomass, or shale gas without the presence of oxygen. The CO2 is captured and can be used “for nanofibers or chemicals such as acetic acid or methanol.” Another outcome, synthesis gas, is “the technology’s likeliest near-term application, as it’s used as fuel in electricity-generating internal combustion engines” and the falling costs of renewable power generation make the economic viability of “clean coal” unclear. For more, read the full article

Biomass, Environmental, Shale

Plummeting costs for wind, solar and battery technology threaten coal and gas

The economic case for coal and gas power generation faces “a mounting threat” as the costs for wind, solar and battery technology see “spectacular reductions,” new research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) shows, according to a recent article in nawindpower.com. A BNEF report on the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) “finds that fossil-fuel power is facing an unprecedented challenge in all three roles it performs in the energy mix — the supply of bulk generation, the supply of dispatchable generation and the provision of flexibility,” the article reports. Wind and solar are becoming a bigger threat for bulk generation, as their LCOEs have reduced due to falling capital costs, increased efficiency and competitive auctions. The pairing of wind and solar power with battery storage allows those renewable sources of generation to smooth output, challenging new coal and gas on dispatchable power. In flexibility, stand-alone batteries are starting to compete with open-cycle gas plants on price. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission, Wind

St. Clairsville, Caldwell prisons awarded $11M in OAQDA financing for energy upgrades

A proposed energy conservation project at two Ohio prisons will receive $11 million in financing from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) to help fund upgrades to reduce energy and water consumption, The Daily Jeff reports. Johnson Controls Inc., will use the OAQDA financing for the installation of lighting retrofits, enhanced energy management systems, and water conservation measures at the Belmont Correctional Institution in St. Clairsville and Noble Correctional Institution in Caldwell. The project is expected to “reduce utility bills, operations and maintenance at both facilities combined by $1,042,360.17 annually, or approximately 21 percent,” according to the article. The resulting carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions reduction will be equivalent to the amount produced by 1,137 cars on the road or 573 homes’ electricity usage. For more, read the full article

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Project Finance

Bricker involved in Cleveland-area solar farm development

As announced by Columbus Business First (subscription required), IGS Energy of Dublin, Ohio, will build a large solar farm on former landfill property near Cleveland. The solar farm will spread across 17 acres and will consist of over 35,000 panels – the largest in the state. Energy generated from the panels will be used by Cuyahoga County to “power about 5 percent of 16 county government buildings.” Bricker attorneys represented Cuyahoga County in the transaction, closing $10 million financing for the project. Likewise, the firm negotiated several related agreements, including a 30-year power purchase agreement. The project is expected to be complete in summer 2018. 

Project Finance, Renewable Energy, Solar

Wind farm will be Huron County’s largest economic development project

Huron County commissioners gave unanimous approval for a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program for the Emerson Creek Wind farm, which will be the largest economic development project in the county, the Norwalk Reflector reports. The 120-turbine wind farm will be located in Huron and Erie counties, and will produce enough electricity to power about 94,000 homes. The PILOT program establishes an annual service payment of $9,000 per megawatt of electricity installed for Huron and Erie counties plus various townships and schools. Huron County Commissioner Skip Wilde said the wind farm is projected to bring in $4.5 million in annual revenue to the community. Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy, a utility-scale renewable energy developer, is developing several projects in Ohio including Emerson Creek, with a combined private investment of $2.6 billion and 690 construction and operating jobs. For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Wind

Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act would help train offshore wind workforce

Three Congressional lawmakers recently introduced the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act to support the education and training of offshore wind workers, nawindpower.com reports. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass), Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass), and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz) said the new federal grant program will assist state and local governments, colleges and universities, unions, and nonprofits to develop health and safety programs, curricula, and internships to develop an offshore wind workforce. The bill prioritizes “grants to community colleges, organizations that service minority populations, and those helping workers from other industries transition to the offshore wind industry.” Rep. Grijalva said, “[w]ind power is a huge part of building the cleaner, more sustainable economy we all deserve, and it can play an even bigger role with the right support.” For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Wind
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