Net metering rules: reasonable limitations or detrimental restrictions? PUCO hears both sides

An uncommon opportunity for “utilities, environmental groups and other stakeholders” to testify before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) elicited diverse opinions on the PUCO’s recent changes to net metering rules in Ohio, Gongwer Ohio reports. The new net metering rules may reduce the amount of credit that net metering customers receive for power returned to the grid (see our November 15, 2017 blog post). PUCO Chairman Asim Haque said the direct feedback at the January 10 hearing (see our January 9, 2018 blog post) was “extraordinarily helpful.” FirstEnergy, American Electric Power, and Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) all expressed support for the new rules. In particular, DP&L counsel Michael Schuler argued that the rules “strike a delicate balance that both encourages the development of distributed generation . . . while also ensuring reasonable limits to ensure safe and reliable service.” Environmental groups, however, “suggested the rules could be detrimental to those who have already installed solar or wind energy by not crediting them for their existing value.”

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission, Wind

Wind turbine at landmark New Philadelphia hotel to begin operating this month

A newly installed wind turbine at New Philadelphia’s Schoenbrunn Inn and Conference Center is expected to begin generating electricity this month, according to a recent article in The Times-Reporter. Sam Courtney, installation supervisor for Wind Turbines of Ohio, LLC, said the wind turbine is “expected to generate an average of 250 to 300 kilowatts of electricity daily,” the article reports. Courtney said turbines like the one installed at Schoenbrunn Inn “cost about $600,000 after tax credits and other incentives,” with an estimated payback period of “nine to 11 years.” The equipment is projected to have 20 to 25 years of useful life. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Wind

Davis-Besse plant decision will have major economic impact on Ottawa County

Whether or not closing Ottawa County’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station would harm grid reliability (see our July 3, 2017 blog post), the economic impact of shutting down the plant could be dramatic, the Port Clinton News Herald reports. A 2015 Nuclear Energy Institute economic study of the Davis-Besse plant shows its operation “generates $805 million of annual economic output in Ottawa County and $1.1 billion statewide,” according to the article. Davis-Besse currently employs 700 people at an average annual salary of approximately $86,000, and the plant’s activities “support 3,600 other full-time jobs statewide.” County economic development director Jamie Beier Grant and Ottawa County Commissioner Mark Stahl “have made two trips to Washington D.C. to meet with federal officials in hopes of getting some federal help” to keep the plant running (see our October 25, 2017 blog post). For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Transmission

PUCO net-metering hearing will allow opposing sides to voice concerns

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) “will hold a highly unusual hearing on Jan. 10,” with all commissioners present to hear concerns from clean-energy advocates and utility companies about recent changes to net metering rules in Ohio (see our December 7, 2017 blog post), The Columbus Dispatch reports. “Environmental advocates and renewable-energy businesses had strong objections to a provision that reduces the amount of credit a resident can receive for any excess energy” generated, according to the article. Utility companies “had concerns that the ruling would allow home-based systems that are larger than is reasonable for a household or business.” The Sunbury News reports that the oral arguments “are scheduled for Jan. 10, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. at the PUCO Offices, Hearing Room 11-B, 180 E. Broad Street, Columbus,” and will also be webcast live on the PUCO website. For more, read the full Columbus Dispatch and Sunbury News articles. 

Environmental, Renewable Energy

Ohio legislature again pursues changes to wind turbine restrictions with SB 238

Another legislative effort “to revive wind farm development in Ohio” is underway in the Ohio Senate, with Sen. Matt Dolan’s introduction of Senate Bill 238 (SB 238), Cleveland.com reports. Similar to SB 188 proposed earlier this year (see our September 28, 2017 blog post), under SB 238, “property line minimum setback distances to adjoining properties would be based on the height of a turbine and the length of its blades,” according to the article. Legislation passed in 2014 requires turbines to be 1,125 feet from the nearest property line (see our June 18, 2014 blog post), a limitation that wind-energy advocates say is “so restrictive that few, if any, new wind farms are likely to be built” in Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Cleveland.com reports that SB 238 references a portion of Ohio tax code that “already gives county governments a good deal of control over wind development” through negotiated “payment in lieu of taxes,” which makes the need for the 2014 state rules “questionable.” For more, read the full Cleveland.com and Dispatch articles. 

Renewable Energy, Wind

Solar enthusiasts gather to celebrate community cooperative’s success

The Loraine County Solar Co-op has seen a “sixfold uptick in photovoltaic system installations” over the past two years, progress that local solar energy supporters recently gathered to celebrate, the Oberlin News-Tribune reports. The Oberlin People’s Energy Coalition “began a journey in January 2016 toward partnering with Community Power Network to help local homeowners obtain rooftop solar power,” according to the article. Before then, “only five Oberlin homes had solar panels.” Solar United Neighbors of Ohio was formed; the group “lobbies for pro-solar policies and can advise those who encounter obstacles in going solar.” With the assistance of a grant from the Green Edge Fund of Oberlin College, “40 individuals, businesses, and institutions seized the opportunity to purchase systems at a discounted price.” For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Solar

Third Sun Solar program will bring solar to Habitat for Humanity homes

Ohio-based Third Sun Solar is partnering with Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio for the Buy One Give One Program that will provide solar power for some Habitat families, Solar Power World reports. For every residential solar system sold between October 1 and December 31 of this year, Third Sun “will donate one solar panel” to Habitat. Geoff Greenfield, president of Third Sun, “said the program should result in enough panels to provide a solar system for three to four Habitat families,” according to the article. President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio E.J. Thomas said he is “excited about this first of its kind partnership,” and while some Habitat homes have included solar installations in the past, “these have been single projects, while this program has the potential to serve many homes.” For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar

First Solar’s new Series 6 panels will be “revolutionary”

The unveiling of a new production line at First Solar Inc.’s Perrysburg Township plant gave a group of media members and Wall Street analysts “a glimpse into the company’s future,” The Toledo Blade reports. The company spent “$177 million to retool the plant” for its new Series 6 production “beginning early in next year’s second quarter,” according to the article. The new “efficient and flexible” production line will “produce enough panels annually to generate 600 megawatts of power.” The new Series 6 panels “will be nothing short of revolutionary,” according to Mike Koralewski, First Solar’s global manufacturing leader. First Solar “uses thin-film technology based on a cadmium-tellurium formula” which in the past had created smaller panels than the silicon-based panels made by other manufacturers. The Series 6 will match the size of silicon-based panels, making them “very competitive.” For more, read the full article

Manufacturing, Logistics & Transp., Renewable Energy, Solar

Will PUCO’s new net metering rules hinder solar’s growth in Ohio?

Environmental advocates are concerned about Ohio’s new net metering rules that change “how utilities compensate customers who supply their own excess generation to the grid,” MidwestEnergyNews.com reports. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) released the new rules, which “would not credit customers with the ‘capacity’ portion of their overall rate” for that excess generation, but would credit them “just the energy-only portion . . . about 85 percent of the bundled rate,” according to the article. This change represents “a shift from the PUCO’s previous position”; in 2014, the PUCO “moved to require utilities to compensate net metering customers for the full retail rate.” The new rules also could “discourage customers from shopping for competitive rates or switching electricity suppliers,” because they “provide only for credits against future charges, rather than direct payment of amounts due.” Customers who shop for a different supplier would risk losing the value of credits they’ve earned. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission

Solar project will supply a third of Monroeville’s power

The village of Monroeville is partnering with Eitri Foundry to create a solar park at the Monroeville Reservoir, a project that should “power about a third” of the village, the Norwalk Reflector reports. Village council president pro-tem Chris Raferty said the Monroeville Solar Park “will decrease our usage costs incrementally.” Local contractors “are placing about 15,000 solar panels on 18 acres,” and EHOVE Career Center students have been working on the job site twice a week, doing both hands-on tasks and learning trade coordination, according to the article. The park will have “a 360-degree, controllable live-feed camera” which will monitor the solar field and “keep track of ‘the clear view of the western horizon to monitor for severe weather,’” in coordination with NOAA Weather Service in Cleveland and “the local SKYWARN team.” For more, read the full article

 

Renewable Energy, Solar
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