FirstEnergy says nuclear subsidies are “crucial” for continued operation

Whether or not FirstEnergy retains ownership of the two nuclear power plants in Ohio, customer-paid subsidies are crucial to keep those plants operating, according to company president and CEO Chuck Jones, Cleveland.com reports. Jones said FirstEnergy will “continue to press Ohio lawmakers” for the legislation to provide that financial support (see our May 23, 2017 blog post), calling it “the right thing to do for the state of Ohio.” Without that Zero Emission Nuclear Resource program, Jones said “he doubted anyone could operate” the Perry and Davis-Besse plants due to competition from plants powered by natural gas, and even wind power at times, according to the article. Jones “thinks the switch particularly to gas turbine power plants could create both national security and economic development disasters,” due to a “very unsophisticated” bulk gas system that does not have the “redundancy that the bulk electric system has.” For more, read the full article

Environmental, Sustainability, Transmission

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

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

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

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

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
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