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Renewable energy tax credits making huge impact on U.S. jobs, economy
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says federal tax credit extensions for wind and solar power are creating “huge gains” for U.S. employment and the gross domestic product (GDP), nawindpower.com reports. The nonprofit NRDC “analyzed the impact of the tax credits” for wind and solar that Congress extended at the end of 2015. The group published its findings in a report that shows “Ohio will add more than 10,000 jobs in 2018, and the state’s GDP is expected to get a boost of nearly $1.2 billion that year.” Kevin Steinberger, policy analyst in the group’s Climate and Clean Air Program, said, “[g]ood tax policies to boost wind and solar projects are creating new jobs, growing our economy, and providing climate and public health benefits.” For more, read the full article.
What does repeal of the Clean Power Plan mean for the environment?
President Trump recently signed an executive order rescinding the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) (see our June 9, 2014 blog post), a move that eliminates the nation’s first mandate for power plants to reduce carbon emissions. Without that mandate, “America’s electrical power industry could continue to emit high levels of CO2,” according to Ken Kimmell, president of science advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, in a recent CBSnews.com article. The CPP would have helped the nation move toward “cleaner sources, like [natural] gas, and even really clean sources, like renewable energy, such as wind and solar,” which would provide “significant health benefits,” Kimmell said in the article. Cleveland.com reports that White House spokesman Sean Spicer said dismantling the CPP will “strengthen the nation’s energy security by ‘reducing unnecessary regulatory obstacles that restrict the responsible use of domestic energy resources.’” For more, read the full CBSnews.com and Cleveland.com articles.
Birding groups file lawsuit to block Camp Perry wind turbine
The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) have filed a 31-page lawsuit in a U.S. District Court, asking the court “to block construction of a large wind turbine at Camp Perry near Lake Erie,” Cleveland.com reports. The two groups “are asking the court the halt the project until the National Guard obtains the proper permits and conducts environmental impact assessments required by the Endangered Species Act,” according to the article. The BSBO and ABC “successfully halted construction of the 600-kilowatt wind turbine” in 2014 after “determining the Air National Guard had failed to obtain the proper certificates.” Subsequently, the National Guard “completed an environmental assessment and obtained permission from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,” which the birding groups “maintain are inadequate.” In October 2016, the groups announced their intent to file the lawsuit if the Air National Guard did not halt their plans to build the turbine (see our November 22, 2016 blog post). For more, read the full article.
Buckeye Wind case goes to Ohio Supreme Court
The Ohio Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on an extension of certificate for the Buckeye Wind turbine project, the Urbana Citizen reports. The issue currently before the Ohio Supreme Court is whether a motion for extension constitutes an amendment to the original Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) certificate. Buckeye Wind attorney Michael Settineri “said nothing has changed in the project facility from when the board approved the amendment to Buckeye I through the motion for extension.” Settineri notes, for example, that “the turbines [are] in the same location and the setbacks remain the same.” By contrast, Jack Van Kley, an attorney for Union Neighbors United, argues that the extension is a substantive change that necessitates a re-evaluation of the project pursuant to current safety regulations. For more, read the full article.
For the first time, wind is U.S.’s top source of renewable energy capacity
Wind energy “grew at its second-fastest pace ever during the last three months of 2016,” passing conventional hydropower to “become the largest source of renewable electricity capacity in the U.S.,” according to a study by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), The Hill reports. AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said in a statement, “American wind power is now the number one source of renewable capacity, thanks to more than 100,000 wind workers across all 50 states.” This U.S.-made “clean energy resource helps rural communities pay for new roads, bridges, and schools, while bringing back manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt.” According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “wind power accounted for 4.7 percent of electricity generation in the United States” at the end of 2015; AWEA expects wind power will account for “10 percent of the U.S.’s electricity by 2020.” For more, read the full article.
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.
DP&L agreement would dump coal plants and develop renewable projects
Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) “has filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) a settlement to its electric security plan (ESP) that would end its ownership in 2,093 MW of coal-fired generation and bring more renewable energy to Ohio,” nawindpower.com reports. The six-year settlement was reached “after months of intense negotiation,” according to the Sierra Club, which has also agreed to sign on to the settlement. The agreement would “retire the Killen and Stuart coal plants in June 2018” with DP&L committed to beginning a “sales process for its ownership shares” in three other coal plants. The utility also commits to developing “at least 300 MW of solar and wind energy projects in Ohio no later than 2022” and contributing “$565,000 annually to help DP&L low-income electricity consumers reduce their energy usage.” Additionally, DP&L will invest $35 million in the first year to deploy smart grid initiatives. For more, read the full article.
OMA Energy Guide details five game-changing Ohio energy projects
The Ohio Manufacturers' Association recently released a report on what it considers to be the top five energy projects currently under development in Ohio, including a look at how each project impacts Ohio energy consumers' bottom lines. These projects represent more than $30 billion in investment over the past five years, and have afforded Ohio residents lower energy prices.
Wind industry looks to Ohio legislature for its future in the state
Ohio has the potential to generate wind energy “on a large scale,” but the state “lacks a rulebook that allows developers to do just that,” Cleveland.com reports. When the Ohio General Assembly passed stricter wind turbine setback requirements in 2014 (see our June 18, 2014 blog post), industry advocates said it placed Ohio “at a disadvantage to neighboring states” with more accommodating standards, according to the article. Wind developers are “hoping to persuade state lawmakers” to return to the standards that were in place before the 2014 change, which would increase the number of turbines allowed to be built for any newly approved projects. Amazon, which purchases electricity from a wind farm in Paulding County built under the old setback rules, has expressed support for a reversion to the old setback rules to allow for more wind development in the state (see our November 18, 2016 blog post). A “larger debate on energy policy” is expected in the state legislature this year, but it’s not clear whether wind turbine setback rules will be included in that discussion. For more, read the full article.
AEP, FirstEnergy have different strategies for meeting renewable energy requirements
Since Governor John Kasich vetoed Substitute House Bill 554, causing Ohio’s renewable energy standards to resume (see our January 12, 2017 blog post), “FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron will be required to boost the percentage of renewable energy it distributes to retail customers,” Cleveland.com reports. Doug Colafella, a spokesperson for FirstEnergy, said the utility “will likely buy renewable energy credits (RECs) and solar renewable credits (SRECs) in the fall to meet the mandate,” according to the article. While RECs and SRECs “do not represent actual purchases of electricity,” they “offset the cost of investments in renewable energy made by others.” American Electric Power (AEP) had previously announced plans to develop 500 megawatts (MW) of wind power and 400 MW of solar in Ohio (see our May 24, 2016 blog post), and the company “does not expect any problem meeting the renewable energy mandates.” For more, read the full article.