Energy Works and Finance Authority partner to offer green energy financing

Two local programs are working together to promote sustainability by offering low-interest loans to Franklin County businesses, non-profit organizations and local governments for green energy upgrades. Franklin County Commissioners established Energy Works in 2015 to help keep Columbus green and attract new businesses. The Commissioners plan to commit $1.5 million annually for five years for energy upgrades to aging buildings as well as other green energy projects. The Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority’s Energy Loan Fund is an economic development tool providing financing for energy efficiency improvements. The Finance Authority uses funds from Energy Works as well as its own funds to provide low-interest loans ranging from $200,000 to $6 million for projects such as PNC Plaza’s (see our March 17, 2016 blog post) and Trinity Lutheran Seminary’s energy upgrades.

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Project Finance, Sustainability

Hudson considers adding solar panels to its electricity provider portfolio

The City of Hudson already “has solar panels on city-owned property . . . but could have a much larger solar presence” if a proposed project is finalized, the Hudson Hub-Times reports. Hudson’s electrical power consultant shared with City Council “a possible new solar project” that the “city could take part in to help with high peak energy days,” according to the article. John Courtney of Courtney & Associates, Hudson’s electric system consultant for Hudson Public Power (HPP), said a developer “could build and operate a Behind-The-Meter solar project for a municipality.” The city would pay only for the electrical power produced and “delivered to the city’s power grid.” Council member Casey Weinstein called the project “a great opportunity,” saying the city would “deliver power savings to HPP customers” while utilizing property “not suited for other development and contributing to keeping our air cleaner for our families.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission

Cuyahoga County joins Compact of Mayors to combat climate change

Cuyahoga County has joined “the world’s largest cooperative effort among local government leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, track progress, and prepare for the impacts of climate change,” reports. Cleveland is one of 140 cities in the United States to join the Compact of Mayors, which “includes 658 cities worldwide,” according to the article. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said, “[w]e must do all we can to protect the health of the citizens of our county, both today and into the future.” Over the next six months, Cuyahoga County will “measure in detail the greenhouse gases that come out of the county ‘and work with partner agencies and governments including the City of Cleveland to set greenhouse gas reduction levels, strategies to achieve the goals and ways for our local region to deal with the issues that Climate Change presents to us,’” said Mike Foley, the county’s Director of Sustainability director. For more, read the full article

Environmental, Sustainability

Camp Perry wind turbine project “no longer moving forward”

Plans for a wind turbine at Camp Perry have been dropped in response to a lawsuit from two bird conservancy groups, the News Herald reports. Originally proposed in 2012, the $1.5-million wind turbine project was already halted once when the American Bird Conservatory and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory sent notice that they would file a lawsuit unless the military ceased its plans for the project. Last year, the Ohio Air National Guard then revived the project.
Now, however, the American Bird Conservatory and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court (see our March 20, 2017 blog post), arguing that “the project violated the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws.” The National Guard Bureau then responded to the lawsuit in June, informing the groups that the Air National Guard will “no longer be pursuing the construction of the turbine.” The conservancy groups “subsequently agreed to drop the lawsuit.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Wind

Closing nuclear plants may cause carbon emissions to rise

The abundant supply of inexpensive natural gas has helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade, but that trend could reverse as nuclear plants are pushed into retirement, The New York Times reports. The gas boom has “driven hundreds of dirtier coal plants” out of business, “a big reason carbon dioxide emissions fell 14 percent from 2005 to 2016,” according to the article. However, nuclear power plants, which nationwide supply “one-fifth of the country’s electricity without generating any planet-warming greenhouses gases,” are having trouble competing with low-cost natural gas power plants. Six nuclear plants “have announced that they will close between now and 2025”; together, those plants generated “nearly 60 million megawatt-hours of electricity last year, more than all of America’s solar panels combined.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Transmission

Ohio University will join national coalition committed to Paris Agreement actions

After President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Ohio University (OU) announced the school “will join a national coalition committed to fighting climate change,” The Post reports. The initiative “aligns with the values and actions reflected in the Paris Agreement, a global effort to stop temperatures from rising two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels,” according to the article. OU president Duane Nellis said in a press release, “Ohio University chooses to lead by example by working toward a sustainable future in every capacity we can.” For more, read the full article and press release.  


Nuclear plants not needed to maintain grid reliability, PJM official says

Closing Ohio’s two nuclear power plants would not affect grid reliability, according to an official with PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, UtilityDive reports. Craig Glazer, vice president of federal government policy at PJM, said, “[t]he lights aren’t going to go out” if FirstEnergy closes the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants. FirstEnergy has requested a Zero Emission Nuclear Resource program to compensate the plants for producing clean, reliable power (see our May 23, 2017 blog post). Glazer, also a former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, said, “[t]here’s not a reliability problem. If you want to save [the nuclear plants] because of their jobs, because of economic development reasons or for tax revenue, that’s outside of our bailiwick.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Transmission

Federal Hocking solar project will supply 80 percent of energy for high school and middle school

A 704-kW solar panel array to be installed on the roofs of the Federal Hocking High School and Middle School will drastically reduce the facility’s electricity costs, The Athens Messenger reports. The array is part of the Solar ACCESS pilot project, a collaboration between UpGrade Ohio, Third Sun Solar and New Resource Solutions; the partnership “aims to increase access and participation in the solar economy for low or moderate income areas.” Solar ACCESS “was selected as one of 35 projects around the country in the U.S. Department of Energy’s ‘Solar in your community’ challenge,” according to the article. Federal Hocking Superintendent George Wood said the facility’s monthly electric costs are estimated to “go from $1,600–$1,700 down to about $200,” and that “[t]his investment will pay off for many, many years; both in dollars and in generation of clean energy.” 

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Solar

First PACE project in Sycamore Township completed

Kids First Sports Center is the first building in Sycamore Township to complete an energy-efficiency project with PACE financing, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. The 108,000-square-foot youth sports facility and preschool “used PACE to finance a $650,000 energy improvement project that included the installation of rooftop solar energy panels . . . the replacement of fluorescent lighting with LED lighting and the installation of new insulation panels in the facility’s gymnasium,” according to the article. In a press release, Kids First owner Jeff Metzger said the improvements “will reduce the facility’s energy costs by 50 percent” and called PACE “a tremendous approach to improving buildings and the environment.” Bricker & Eckler served as PACE counsel for the project. The PACE program provides financing for the total cost of energy projects, and the loans are repaid through special assessments on the property’s tax bill (see our Energy SIDs & Pace Financing Resource Center).  For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Project Finance, Solar

Largest U.S. nuclear plant company pushes for FirstEnergy subsidies in Ohio

A major player in the nuclear power plant market has urged Ohio legislators to support FirstEnergy’s request for zero-emission credit subsidies (see our May 3, 2017 blog post), Columbus Business First reports. Exelon Corp., which owns 23 of the 100 nuclear reactors in the United States, says such zero-emission credits are “part of a national issue: Nuclear power plants are a necessary power generator, but are increasingly failing for economic reasons,” according to the article. Joseph Dominguez, Exelon’s executive vice president for governmental and regulatory affairs and public policy, submitted legislative testimony saying, “[w]e are at risk of losing the very assets that most reliably produce electricity with zero carbon emissions, and help to ensure a stable and resilient electric grid.” The Ohio House recently suspended a bill on the subsidies (see our May 23, 2017 blog post), but the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee is scheduled to hold another hearing on the bill this month. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Transmission
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