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

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

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.

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

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.

Energy Efficiency, Transmission

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. 

Transmission

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.

Renewable Energy, Transmission, Wind

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

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission

“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.

Transmission
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