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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.
PUCO’s PowerForward initiative will explore smart grid technology
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is launching an exploration into grid modernization that “could be revolutionary” according to PUCO Chairman Asim Haque, the Journal-News reports. The initiative, dubbed “PowerForward,” aims “to chart a path forward for future grid modernization projects, innovative regulations and forward-thinking policies,” reports a recent UtilityDive article. Three key phases of the PowerForward initiative will span into 2018; the Journal-News reports the first phase will be a three-day conference with “presentations on the technologies currently affecting electricity distribution, the benefits to smart grid technology and technological innovations currently in development.” That event will be live-streamed on the PUCO website. For more, read the full Journal-News and UtilityDive articles.
North America’s “first freshwater offshore wind project” files with Ohio Siting Board
Icebreaker Windpower Inc. “formally filed applications with the Ohio Power Siting Board for the Project Icebreaker wind farm” project to install six wind turbines off the shore of Lake Erie, nawindpower.com reports. The project was originally developed by the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo), which “teamed up with Norway-based Fred. Olsen Renewables” in 2015 (see our December 17, 2015 blog post); Fred. Olsen Renewables’ U.S. subsidiary “established Icebreaker Windpower Inc., the owner, developer and operator of the project.” The 20.7-megawatt (MW) project “would comprise six 3.45 MW wind turbines,” submerged cables, and a substation (see our April 4, 2016 blog post). Icebreaker Windpower’s application states that “two-thirds of the project’s output has already been sold to CPP [Cleveland Public Power] under a long-term power purchase agreement,” with the remaining power to be “delivered to the grid” operated by regional transmission organization PJM Interconnection. For more, read the full article.
Bowling Green 20-MW solar project, largest in state, now online
American Municipal Power (AMP) recently announced that the 20-megawatt (MW) Bowling Green Solar Facility, “the largest solar installation in the State of Ohio” (see our September 21, 2016 blog post), began commercial operation in January 2017. The facility is made up of “more than 85,000 modules” that rotate to follow the path of the sun to maximize production. According to AMP’s Executive Vice President of Power Supply and Operations, the project will help “diversify AMP’s member power supply portfolios” and “reduce transmission costs and meet peaking needs.” For more, read AMP’s full press release.
“Submeter” companies can be regulated, PUCO rules
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently ruled that it has “authority to regulate ‘submeter’ companies in certain cases where consumers are clearly being overcharged,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. PUCO began investigating the practice of submetering a year ago after some consumers filed complaints about the increased prices they were paying for utilities, according to the Dispatch article. While some submeter companies “pass through the cost of utilities and charge consumers a billing fee,” others “buy utilities in bulk and resell for a profit” to residents in apartments or condominiums. It is the latter model that has generated most of the complaints (see our article Will a complaint to regulate submeters lead to the regulation of onsite distributed generation as public utilities?). Asim Haque, PUCO chairman, said, “It is our hope that the path we’ve charted today will serve to both discipline pricing in the submetering marketplace and provide a true venue for submetering customers to file their grievances.” For more, read the full article.
Minster’s solar and storage project wins Solar Power Player of the Year award
The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) has named the Village of Minster the 2016 Solar Power Players Awards Public Power Utility of the Year for its first-of-its-kind municipal solar power with battery storage project (see our October 23, 2015 blog post), the Sidney Daily News reports. The awards by SEPA “recognize electric utilities and their industry partners for creating programs embodying the innovation and collaboration that drives smart utility solar growth and expands consumer access to distributed energy technologies,” according to the article. Minster’s project, with 4.2 megawatts (MW) of solar and 7 MW of storage, is “the first of its kind developed by a public power authority.” Awards Judge Paul Belnick, vice president of Integrated Grid at New York Power Authority, said, “[b]y adding storage to solar, Minster has been able to increase the value of the solar array to its customers through revenue stacking . . . and demonstrate its forward-thinking leadership.” For more, read the full article.
Clyde’s 3.6MW solar field saving the city $200,000
AEP Onsite Energy Partners built the 20-acre solar field that began commercial operations in Clyde on June 1, but the city is still saving money, reports the Sandusky Register. The 11,800 solar-celled panels “track the sun, one of the few solar fields in Ohio that does, providing optimal solar exposure,” City Manager Paul Fiser said. The 3.6 megawatts (MW) of electricity generated “result in a saving to the city of $200,000 in reduced transmission fees from other energy supplies,” according to the article. Additionally, the city will net $600,000 from AEP over the 20-year lease for use of the land. Fiser “loves saving money” and the partnership with AEP, as well as the “positive environmental impact,” saying, “[c]utting independence on fossil fuels — what is not good about green energy?” For more, read the full article.
Solar going big: large-scale installations now outpacing small ones
Solar power “is on pace for the first time this year to contribute more new electricity to the U.S. grid” than any other form of energy, a “feat driven more by economics than green mandates,” according to a recent article in The Toledo Blade. Large solar systems that sell directly to U.S. utilities are expected to make up “70 percent of new solar added to the grid this year.” The cost of electricity generated by large-scale solar installations “is now comparable to, and sometimes cheaper, than natural gas-fired power,” even without clean-energy incentives, according to the article. Unsubsidized, utility-scale solar power “costs $50 to $70 per megawatt-hour” to produce, compared to “$52 to $78 for the most efficient type of natural gas plant.” Cory Honeyman, who “follows the U.S. solar industry for market research firm GTM Research,” said, “[w]e are seeing large swaths of centralized utility scale solar be procured primarily because of how cost-competitive it is.” For more, read the full article.