Ohio House suspends bill that would support state’s nuclear plants

The Ohio House of Representatives Public Utilities Committee has “suspended hearings and a vote on a bill to lend financial support to nuclear power plants” in the state, UtilityDive reports. Senate Bill 128 (SB 128) would create a Zero Emission Nuclear Resource (ZEN) program that would compensate FirstEnergy’s two Ohio nuclear plants for generating clean, reliable energy (see our April 19, 2017 blog post). Chair of the House utilities committee Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) “said that after ten hours of hearings he was not ‘sensing a keen desire’ from lawmakers to vote on the bill,” according to the article. Seitz said he doesn’t expect the House to take up SB 128 again “unless something cataclysmic should happen.” For more, read the full article

Environmental, Transmission

Does federal court suspension signal the end of the Clean Power Plan?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently granted the Trump administration’s request to “suspend lawsuits against the Clean Power Plan rule,” The Washington Post reports. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) “represents the first-ever regulations to cut carbon pollution from U.S. existing power plants,” nawindpower.com reports. The CPP would reduce carbon emissions from power plants by approximately 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. 

David Rivkin, a lawyer for a group of states who filed suit against the CPP, called the D.C. District Court ruling “the death knell of the Clean Power Plan,” saying many of the plan’s rules “have been plagued by fundamental constitutional infirmities,” according to the Washington Post article. The Post also reports, however, that environmental and public health groups that support the CPP still believe they can prevail in court. General counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, for example, has stated that “[t]he Supreme Court is clear that the EPA has a duty to protect Americans from dangerous climate pollution under our nation’s clean air laws.” For more, read the full Washington Post and nawindpower.com articles. 

Environmental, Federal Climate Legislation

Are Ohio’s zero-emission credit bills a bailout?

FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones recently appeared before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in support of a bill to create zero-emission credits for his company’s nuclear power plants, Gongwer Ohio reports. House Bill 178 and its Senate companion, Senate Bill 128 (see our April 19, 2017 blog post) “would establish the Zero Emission Nuclear [ZEN] Resource Program, which would create the credits to be priced by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and purchased by distribution utilities with nuclear plants.” Jones said the ZEN program would “shore up struggling plants, thereby saving thousands of direct and indirect Ohio jobs,” according to Gongwer. Bill opponent American Petroleum Institute Ohio issued a statement arguing that “the bill would tip the scales away from more competitive natural gas plants.” Jones said he does not view the program as a subsidy but as the state deciding whether to pay the plants for the economic and environmental benefits they bring.

Environmental, Transmission

Trumbull County commissioners vote no on electric utility re-regulation

Commissioners in Trumbull County oppose re-regulation of Ohio’s electric utility service and want to protect “an $890 million energy investment” in Lordstown, the Tribune Chronicle reports. Commissioners approved a resolution opposing large power companies’ requests for “state legislators to return to the days prior to the 2001 de-regulation of the industry.” Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future, said his company’s plans to build a “$900 million, 940-megawatt gas-powered electric plant next to the Lordstown Energy Center now under construction” would “stop immediately” if Ohio reinstates regulation of electric rates. County Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa said energy from the new plant would be “cleaner, greener and cheaper” and that energy consumers have saved millions since the industry was deregulated. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Transmission

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.

Environmental, Transmission

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

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Solar, Sustainability

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. 

Environmental, Federal Climate Legislation, Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind

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

Energy Efficiency, Environmental

AEP supports FirstEnergy’s request for zero-emission tax credits

FirstEnergy is requesting approval from Ohio legislatures for zero-emission tax credits to keep two nuclear power plants—the Davis-Besse plant and the Perry plant—afloat, UtilityDive reports. Fellow Ohio utility American Electric Power (AEP) has expressed support for those subsidies, so long as AEP customers do not pay for them. FirstEnergy’s proposal would keep those plants “generating carbon-free energy through their expected lifespan,” but “the extra costs would be borne by consumers and could affect market revenues for gas generators.” 

FirstEnergy and AEP “both won support for struggling coal and nuclear generation from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio” last year, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “subsequently blocked the deals, leading to talk of plant sales and re-regulation as many aging baseload plants struggle to compete with low-cost natural gas and renewable energy.” For more, read the full article

Environmental, Miscellaneous

OSU President Drake says energy privatization needed to meet sustainability goals

Appearing on a recent episode of WOSU’s “All Sides with Ann Fisher,” Ohio State University (OSU) President Michael Drake said the university’s plan to privatize its energy management “is necessary to reduce the campus’s carbon emissions and energy footprint,” thelantern.com reports. OSU began exploring the possibility of outsourcing its energy management to save money and increase energy efficiency over two years ago (see our March 5, 2015 blog post). Drake said the university needs a partner that can help them “achieve our sustainability goals” and that he hopes “the university becomes more efficient in the way it uses energy through the privatized arrangement,” according to the article. “We have certain buildings now that are too hot in the winter and too cold in the summer . . . I think we can just do a better job at managing our energy,” he said. Leading experts from around the world have expressed interest in partnering with OSU in this project (see our November 4, 2016 blog post). For more, read the full article

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Sustainability
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