Posts Authored by Dylan F. Borchers

FirstEnergy subsidiary asks federal government to rescue nuclear plants, declares bankruptcy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is likely to have the final say on whether FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. is able to continue producing power at its nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a recent article in The Washington Post. FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary of Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy, announced plans to shut down its Perry, Davis-Besse, and Beaver Valley nuclear plants, which collectively account for a steady stream of about 4 billion watts of electricity. After making that announcement, the company filed an emergency request with the DOE asking for help to keep the three nuclear plants as well as some coal-fired plants operating. Regional grid operator PJM Interconnection had previously stated the nuclear plants were not needed to maintain grid reliability (see our July 3, 2017 blog post). After FirstEnergy Solutions submitted the request to the DOE, the company declared bankruptcy, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. That filing does not involve FirstEnergy “or its distribution, transmission, regulated generation and Allegheny Energy Supply subsidiaries,” according to the Beacon Journal. For more, read the full Washington Post and Akron Beacon Journal articles.  

Transmission

Plummeting costs for wind, solar and battery technology threaten coal and gas

The economic case for coal and gas power generation faces “a mounting threat” as the costs for wind, solar and battery technology see “spectacular reductions,” new research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) shows, according to a recent article in nawindpower.com. A BNEF report on the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) “finds that fossil-fuel power is facing an unprecedented challenge in all three roles it performs in the energy mix — the supply of bulk generation, the supply of dispatchable generation and the provision of flexibility,” the article reports. Wind and solar are becoming a bigger threat for bulk generation, as their LCOEs have reduced due to falling capital costs, increased efficiency and competitive auctions. The pairing of wind and solar power with battery storage allows those renewable sources of generation to smooth output, challenging new coal and gas on dispatchable power. In flexibility, stand-alone batteries are starting to compete with open-cycle gas plants on price. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission, Wind

Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act would help train offshore wind workforce

Three Congressional lawmakers recently introduced the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act to support the education and training of offshore wind workers, nawindpower.com reports. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass), Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass), and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz) said the new federal grant program will assist state and local governments, colleges and universities, unions, and nonprofits to develop health and safety programs, curricula, and internships to develop an offshore wind workforce. The bill prioritizes “grants to community colleges, organizations that service minority populations, and those helping workers from other industries transition to the offshore wind industry.” Rep. Grijalva said, “[w]ind power is a huge part of building the cleaner, more sustainable economy we all deserve, and it can play an even bigger role with the right support.” For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Wind

University of Dayton adds 4,026 solar panels as part of ongoing sustainability efforts

Thousands of solar panels will be placed on the roof of Fitz Hall and the front lawn of Daniel J. Curran Place on the University of Dayton (UD) campus, as part of the school’s effort to reduce its carbon footprint and save on energy costs, the Dayton Business Journal reports. The 1.26-megawatt installation will provide nearly 10 percent of the two buildings’ power consumption, as well as power electric car-charging stations. The solar arrays will offset about 1 percent of campus-wide carbon emissions, the equivalent of annual carbon dioxide emissions from 1.4 million pounds of burned coal, 140 homes, or conserving 3,010 barrels of oil. Milford-based Melink Corporation will engineer and construct the arrays, and will sell the electricity to UD. The university expects to save approximately $300,000 over the 30-year lifespan of the panels. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Solar

Competing proposals: ease wind energy industry restrictions, or add more hurdles?

The future of wind energy development in Ohio could depend on which of two current proposals for changing industry requirements prevails, The Morning Journal reports. Development of new, large-scale wind projects have stalled in the state since HB 483, which increased setback guidelines for turbines, became law in 2014 (see our June 18, 2014 blog post). Wind-energy backers are proposing new legislation (see our February 27, 2018 blog post) that would allow counties to permit construction of wind turbines closer to property lines. However, a proposal before a state board that regulates wind farm sites seeks to force wind developers to obtain approval from more property owners before building turbines—adding yet another hurdle for any new projects. The American Wind Energy Association called that proposal “a death sentence” for Ohio’s future wind-energy development. For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Wind

Landfill-based solar farm will reduce Cuyahoga County’s energy costs

Construction is set to begin April 15th on a new 4-megawatt (MW) solar farm built on a portion of a former Brooklyn, Ohio landfill—the project will save Cuyahoga County about $3 million in power costs over 25 years, Cleveland.com reports. Columbus-based IGS Solar will use approximately 17 acres of the closed landfill to construct the 35,000-panel solar array. IGS contracted with Perrysburg-based First Solar to provide the needed panels. Further, the panels themselves will be mounted on a racking system developed and manufactured by Cincinnati-based RBI Solar. Mike Foley, Cuyahoga County Sustainability Director, estimated that electricity should be flowing by mid-summer over a new transmission line currently being installed by Cleveland Public Power. IGS estimates the solar farm will produce about 5 million kilowatt-hours annually—enough to power 500 homes. For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission

FirstEnergy will invest over $775M to bolster grid reliability in Ohio, Pennsylvania

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. has announced plans to invest over $775 million in 2018 on distribution, transmission and infrastructure projects, Crain’s Cleveland reports. In December 2017, the company filed plans with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to modernize its electric grid over the course of the next three years (see our December 27, 2017 blog post). The major investments will include rebuilding transmission lines, inspecting and replacing utility poles, replacing underground circuits, and adding new equipment in substations. This $775 million investment by FirstEnergy is on top of the already invested $742 million by the company between 2004 and 2016. For more, read the full article

Transmission

Study says 100% global renewable energy with stable grid is possible

There are methods that could make renewable energy reliable enough “to power at least 139 countries,” a new study by researchers in the United States and Denmark finds, according to a recent nawindpower.com article. Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley and Aalborg University in Denmark, propose ways to overcome the inconsistencies of wind, water and solar power and the “continuously fluctuating demand for energy” in the paper recently published in Renewable Energy, according to the article. The paper “builds on a previous study by Jacobson and colleagues that examined the ability of the grid to stay stable in the 48 contiguous states.” The new research includes excess energy-generation storage methods and “predictions of energy demands over time.” Computational modeling programs predicted future weather patterns and how much renewable energy could be produced from weather-related energy sources; the group was then able to predict how well more stable sources such as geothermal and hydroelectric power plants “could balance out the fluctuating energy to meet demands.” For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Solar, Sustainability, Wind

Record numbers in 2017 show clean energy is good for American economy

The growth of sustainable energy industries in 2017 “contributed to greater economic competitiveness, job creation and the expansion of the American economy,” according to findings in the sixth annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, nawindpower.com reports. The factbook is the result of “a comprehensive review of energy statistics” by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), according to the article. The 2018 edition found that renewable deployment “grew at a near-record pace” last year, with wind, solar and hydropower driving renewable generation “up from 15% to 18% of the total electricity mix in one year.” The energy efficiency sector “was the largest single employer within the sustainable energy sectors” with nearly 2.2 million jobs. The United States “remains globally competitive for energy-intensive industries, thanks to low industrial power prices,” and corporations are increasingly demanding clean energy and investing in energy efficiency. For more, read the full article or click here to read the full factbook. 

Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Solar, Sustainability, Wind

Lawmaker says returning to former wind turbine setbacks will spur investment in Ohio

The debate over setback requirements for wind turbines in Ohio continues (see our August 23, 2016 blog post), this time with Senate Bill 328 (SB 328) sponsored by Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), which would “ease the restrictions for potential wind development,” the Springfield News-Sun reports. Dolan said the 2014 legislation (see our June 18, 2014 blog post) that increased setback requirements has “made it nearly impossible for wind farm developers to operate in the state,” according to the article. If approved, SB 328 “would determine setback requirements based on the height of the turbine and the length of the turbine’s blades.” Dolan pointed out that “no new wind farm applications have been filed with the state since the setback increase in 2014,” and he said Ohio “is losing out on millions in investment going to other states.” Andrew Gohn, eastern regional policy director for the American Wind Energy Association, said rolling back the 2014 legislation “will unleash Ohio business opportunities for wind power and the Fortune 500 companies who want to buy it.” For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Wind
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