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Bucyrus residents oppose AEP’s request to raise base rates
In one of four statewide hearings about a potential increase in electricity base rates, Bucyrus residents expressed concern and opposition, the Mansfield News Journal reports. The hearing “was designed to only collect statements from citizens” about American Electric Power (AEP) Ohio’s request to raise “its electric security plan —the consumers’ base rate,” according to the article. If the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approves that request, “AEP Ohio customers will see their base rate rise from $8.40 to $18.40 monthly.” PUCO Commissioner Beth Trombold listened as citizens voiced concerns over rising electricity costs, the effect of the increase on low-wage families, and a lack of competition for electric utility service. The final hearing will be held at 12:30 p.m. on April 25 at PUCO’s office on Broad Street in Columbus. For more, read the full article.
Proposed Ohio bill would support state’s nuclear power plants
Ohio legislators have introduced a bill to create a Zero Emission Nuclear Resource (ZEN) program to help keep the state’s nuclear power plants operating, UtilityDive reports. Senate Bill 128 (SB 128) would create the program to compensate “FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants for the ‘clean, reliable and secure power they generate,’” according to the article. Two of FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants are in Ohio: the Perry and Davis-Besse plants. In a press release, SB 128 sponsor Sen. John Eklund (R) said “customers with a nuclear plant in their service territory would see a ‘small increase’ in their monthly electric bills” if the bill passes. For more, read the full article.
New energy plan for OSU could include natural gas plant on campus
Part of Ohio State University (OSU)’s just-approved energy management agreement with Engie North America and Axium Infrastructure (see our April 12, 2017 blog post) could include a new natural-gas power plant on campus, Columbus Business First reports. Engie “could build a 60-megawatt facility in between Ohio Stadium and the McCracken power plant.” It would be the first power plant on campus providing electric power to the university. If the plant is built, “the combined heat and power plant would produce electricity and heating,” sending “excess energy as heat to nearby buildings.” OSU’s contract with Engie and Axium “calls for a feasibility study” on constructing such a plant. For more, read the full article.
Renewable energy tax credits making huge impact on U.S. jobs, economy
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says federal tax credit extensions for wind and solar power are creating “huge gains” for U.S. employment and the gross domestic product (GDP), nawindpower.com reports. The nonprofit NRDC “analyzed the impact of the tax credits” for wind and solar that Congress extended at the end of 2015. The group published its findings in a report that shows “Ohio will add more than 10,000 jobs in 2018, and the state’s GDP is expected to get a boost of nearly $1.2 billion that year.” Kevin Steinberger, policy analyst in the group’s Climate and Clean Air Program, said, “[g]ood tax policies to boost wind and solar projects are creating new jobs, growing our economy, and providing climate and public health benefits.” For more, read the full article.
OSU selects partner for energy management in $1.165 billion deal
Ohio State University (OSU) trustees recently approved “a $1.165 billion deal to hand its energy systems over to a private company,” Gongwer Ohio reports. The 50-year lease of the university’s energy systems management was awarded to ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure, one of three teams that made it to the final round of bidding on the project (see our March 24, 2017 blog post). Gongwer reports that “[i]n addition to that upfront $1 billion payment, the deal includes a $150 million commitment to specific academic areas and the creation of a $50 million Energy Advancement and Innovation Center.” OSU’s annual costs will include a “$45 million fixed fee to rise with inflation, a $9.2 million starting operating fee and a variable fee tied to capital investments.”
Anheuser-Busch commits to 100% renewable energy by 2025
The world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, “has announced a commitment to secure 100% of the company’s purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025,” nawindpower.com reports. AB InBev “expects to secure 75%–85% of electricity through direct power purchase agreements” and the final 15%–25% from “on-site technologies such as solar panels.” AB InBev’s commitment to 100% renewable electricity will make it “the largest corporate direct purchaser of renewable electricity in the consumer goods sector globally and will reduce the company’s operational carbon footprint by 30%.” This reduction is “the equivalent of taking nearly 500,000 cars off the road.”
This recent announcement is in line with Anheuser-Busch’s previous commitments to sustainability and efficiency, including its previous $18 million update to the Columbus brewery (see our July 1, 2015 blog post). For more, read the full article.
Second attempt to repeal renewable energy standards passes Ohio House
After Governor John Kasich vetoed a previous bill that would have drastically weakened clean energy standards in the state (see our January 12, 2017 blog post), a second bill to repeal renewable energy mandates has passed the House, UtilityDive reports. House Bill 114 (HB 114) now goes to the Senate; some changes from the previous bill include “limiting the amount ratepayers will pay for energy efficiency profits that accrue to the utility,” according to the article. Cleveland.com reports that HB 114 “makes the renewable energy mandates voluntary goals and completely erases them from law in 2026” (see our March 23, 2017 blog post) and “dilutes the requirement that traditional electric utilities reduce peak demand by developing energy efficiency programs for their customers.” For more, read the full UtilityDive and Cleveland.com articles.
What does repeal of the Clean Power Plan mean for the environment?
President Trump recently signed an executive order rescinding the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) (see our June 9, 2014 blog post), a move that eliminates the nation’s first mandate for power plants to reduce carbon emissions. Without that mandate, “America’s electrical power industry could continue to emit high levels of CO2,” according to Ken Kimmell, president of science advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, in a recent CBSnews.com article. The CPP would have helped the nation move toward “cleaner sources, like [natural] gas, and even really clean sources, like renewable energy, such as wind and solar,” which would provide “significant health benefits,” Kimmell said in the article. Cleveland.com reports that White House spokesman Sean Spicer said dismantling the CPP will “strengthen the nation’s energy security by ‘reducing unnecessary regulatory obstacles that restrict the responsible use of domestic energy resources.’” For more, read the full CBSnews.com and Cleveland.com articles.
Birding groups file lawsuit to block Camp Perry wind turbine
The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) have filed a 31-page lawsuit in a U.S. District Court, asking the court “to block construction of a large wind turbine at Camp Perry near Lake Erie,” Cleveland.com reports. The two groups “are asking the court the halt the project until the National Guard obtains the proper permits and conducts environmental impact assessments required by the Endangered Species Act,” according to the article. The BSBO and ABC “successfully halted construction of the 600-kilowatt wind turbine” in 2014 after “determining the Air National Guard had failed to obtain the proper certificates.” Subsequently, the National Guard “completed an environmental assessment and obtained permission from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,” which the birding groups “maintain are inadequate.” In October 2016, the groups announced their intent to file the lawsuit if the Air National Guard did not halt their plans to build the turbine (see our November 22, 2016 blog post). For more, read the full article.
Cincinnati, Columbus among top 30 cities for LEED certification
Two Ohio cities—Cincinnati and Columbus—have been ranked in the top 30 U.S. cities for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification “has been among the key barometers used to measure energy-efficient building practices globally since 2004,” the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. Cities receive recognition on the list according to their amount of “LEED-certified space, ranked by square footage.” LEED offers several levels of certification: Platinum is the highest level of certification and has only been awarded to 5 percent of LEED-certified properties. In 2016, two Cincinnati properties received Platinum recognition. For more, read the full article or see the complete ranking.