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Oct 27, 2014

Business coalition opposes AEP’s proposed power purchase agreement
 

Executives from 12 large businesses including Lowe’s Home Improvement, Wendy’s, Staples, Costco Wholesale, and Macy’s, among others, are arguing against American Electric Power (AEP)’s proposed power purchase agreement (PPA), saying it will “reduce the choices and flexibility we need to manage our energy requirements, resulting in higher costs for electricity for Ohio businesses, and will deny Ohio businesses the right to purchase electricity at the lowest possible price,” according to a recent Gongwer report. AEP says that its proposal, which would allow it to charge customers for “losses stemming from aging power plants,” will “protect consumers against volatility in the market,” according to the report. (For more on AEP’s proposal, see our October 13, 2014 and October 15, 2014 blog posts.) In a letter to Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Tom Johnson, the coalition of businesses said the proposal “will result in customers that have already secured a supply of power from a competitive retail electric service provider paying twice for parts of their generation supply.” AEP attorney Steven Nourse said the proposal is “specifically designed to protect Ohio’s commercial and industrial ratepayers.”
 
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Oct 27, 2014

Wright-Patterson AFB’s discount from DP&L will be covered by $4 million charge to customers
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) gave approval for Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) to charge customers in their territory “an estimated $4 million to provide discounted electricity to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base next year,” Gongwer reports. DP&L and Wright-Patterson’s joint application says the base’s discount will make it more competitive for additional jobs should Congress realign military facilities again. According to the application, “[i]t is anticipated that the savings realized by the base as a result of this modified unique arrangement will be reinvested in the infrastructure of the base, which will in turn create additional direct and indirect job opportunities within the region.” WPAFB will receive a 14% discount in 2015 and an 11% discount the following two years. DP&L’s estimated cost to its average residential customers is approximately 41 cents each month.
 
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Oct 15, 2014

AEP files PPA with PUCO to stabilize prices to consumers
 

AEP Ohio says the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) it filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) October 3, 2014 “is designed to provide customers with more stable electricity prices during periods of market volatility, while continuing the economic viability of Ohio’s generation,” according to The Hannah Report. AEP Ohio President and COO Pablo Vegas said, “Ohio is facing a period of unprecedented uncertainty related to the future supply of low-cost reliable energy.” Vegas cited reasons for reliance on power from outside the state, including the retiring of 20 percent of investor-owned Ohio generation by mid-2015, and current market conditions that could force viable plants to close for economic reasons. AEP’s proposed agreement would entitle the company to 2,700 megawatts of generation from nine units located in Ohio; in return, AEP “would bid all of the energy, capacity and ancillary services associated with these units into PJM Interconnection…and pass along resulting net benefits or costs to customers.” 
 
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Oct 13, 2014

Utilities’ proposed profit guarantees spark debate
 

American Electric Power of Ohio, FirstEnergy Corp., and Duke Energy Ohio’s recently proposed power purchase agreement (PPA) riders (for more on this, see our September 8, 2014 blog post) are drawing comments from all sides of the issue, according to a recent Gongwer report. PJM Interconnection oversees the regional power grid; its independent market monitor, Monitoring Analytics, LLC, “takes the position that subsidies should not be permitted to interfere with the competitiveness of PJM markets and PJM’s competition-based market design.” Senate Public Utilities Committee Chairman Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said the PPA proposals “are worth considering as a way to prevent additional plants from shutting down,” but they “should not permit unlimited risks or benefits for consumers as they are currently proposed.” PUCO staff has recommended against AEP and Duke’s proposed PPAs, and former PUCO Chairman Todd Snitcher said “the key questions for regulators was whether the PPA proposals are necessary to ensure system reliability and help cope with pending power plant retirements.” According to the article, “[t]he PUCO is not expected to rule on any of the proposals until after the Nov. 4 election.”
 
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Oct 10, 2014

Ohio Supreme Court rules electric utility can collect costs even if customers change companies
 

Ohio Power Company may recover $36 million in undercharged transmission costs from both customers who switched companies for services to transmit electricity as well as those who did not, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled, reports Court News Ohio. Normally, “customers who do not purchase generation services…avoid paying transmission costs to the company,” according to the article, but the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) “decided it would be unfair to require Ohio Power’s non-shopping customers to pay all of the $36 million.” The Court agreed with that order in a unanimous decision. Industrial Energy Users-Ohio (IEU) appealed PUCO’s ruling to the state Supreme Court, contending that PUCO “could not rely on a specific statute to authorize this type of cost recovery from both shopping and non-shopping customers, the PUCO did not follow its precedent, and its actions were unlawful retroactive ratemaking.” The Court found that “IEU did not show that the commission’s order was unjust, unreasonable, or unlawful.” For more, read the full article
 
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Oct 01, 2014

PUCO postpones decision to stay DP&L rider twice
 

For the second time, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) postponed a decision requested by customer groups to stay Dayton Power & Light (DP&L)’s $330 million rider that PUCO had approved last year. The rider is part of DP&L’s electric security plan “designed to ensure stable service while the company divests its generation assets and transitions to the competitive generation market,” according to a recent Gongwer report. Customer groups appealing the rider to the Ohio Supreme Court include the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, Ohio Energy Group, Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, and Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy. According to the report, “the groups argue that the rider guarantees DP&L’s profits in violation of state law that prohibits the company from collecting transition revenues when it was already supposed to be operating in the competitive market.” The customer advocate groups asked PUCO in July to stay DP&L from collecting the rider from its customers, “because customers are unlikely to get a refund if the Supreme Court ultimately rules in their favor.” PUCO has had the customer groups’ request on its agenda for the past two meetings; it has been rescheduled for October 1. DP&L has already begun its collection against the rider.
 
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Sep 30, 2014

Dayton Power & Light sees increase in wholesale auction prices
 

Dayton Power & Light held its second wholesale auction on September 23, 2014,  representing 50 percent of its standard service offer (SSO), with the winning bids coming in at $62.08 per megawatt hour (MWh), according to a recent article in The Hannah Report. According to the article, last fall “the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved consumer costs of $49.32 per megawatt hour for the initial piece of DP&L’s January 2014–May 2017 service period” for DP&L’s first auction, which was for 10 percent of its SSO.  Also last September, PUCO had approved an electric security plan (ESP) that guarantees DP&L “$375 million in customer ‘stability’ charges under a graduated shift to deregulated electricity prices.” DP&L’s customers still have the option to choose alternate suppliers or join an electric aggregation group.
 
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Sep 24, 2014

Southeast Ohio aggregation group looking at two suppliers
 

The Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) working to bring electric aggregation to Athens County and the city of Athens has “narrowed down potential aggregation supplier companies to AEP Energy and Empower Gas and Electric,” reports The Athens News. Athens mayor Paul Wiehl said that SOPEC is “considering using a merger of different services from the two,” according to the article. SOPEC’s goal is to create a council of governments that new entities can join later if they want to participate in the aggregation, without requiring further approval from PUCO. Aggregation allows customers to band together to purchase as a group and thereby negotiate lower rates. Athens City Council member Jennifer Cochran said, “We want to bring down energy costs, provide savings to residents, and get some sustainability into our mix and local generation whenever possible.” For more, read the full article.
 
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Sep 24, 2014

Dayton’s plans for electric aggregation proceed
 

Dayton households are closer to saving an average of $100 to $200 per year on energy costs, as plans for the city’s electric aggregation move ahead. Last November, voters passed a ballot initiative giving Dayton city commissioners the authority to create an opt-out aggregation program. Next month, city commissioners are set to vote on the plan, after which the city will submit it to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) so Dayton “can become a Competitive Retail Electric Service provider,” reports the Dayton Daily News. The next steps will be for the city to “issue a request for proposals to hire a broker,” and then “go out for bid to find an electric supplier,” according to the article. Aggregation allows individual customers to join a larger group and negotiate lower energy prices based on their combined purchase power. Dayton citizens who prefer not to join the aggregation plan may opt out. For more, read the full article.
 
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Sep 17, 2014

Ohio Consumers’ Counsel examines electric competition
 

Gene Krebs, Chairman of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), wants the OCC Governing Board to question “[w]hy Ohio consumers have not received the full benefit of deregulation” in 2015, according to a recent Hannah Report. Krebs questions Ohio’s utility prices, and “OCC staff said the state push for ‘reregulation’ of power plants would benefit utility companies, not consumers,” according to the report. OCC Director of Analytical Services, Dan Shields, said the industry’s request for power purchase agreements would not help consumers (for more on this, see our September 8, 2014 blog post). Shields commented, “Generation prices are at historic lows, and customers should be benefiting,” but “electric utilities, through proposed power purchase agreements (PPA) are requesting reregulation of certain generation plants.” 
 
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Sep 10, 2014

Six Bricker & Eckler, LLP Green Strategies lawyers recognized by Best Lawyers®
 

Best Lawyers® recently announced its 2015 Lawyers of the Year and Best Lawyers in America® 2014; among those honored are six attorneys in Bricker & Eckler, LLP’s Green Strategies Group. Sally W. Bloomfield was named Energy Law “Lawyer of the Year,” an honor that is given to “[o]nly a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area,” according to the bestlawyers.com website. Five attorneys were also recognized as The Best Lawyers in America® 2014, an award that is presented after a peer-review survey of leading attorneys in the same markets who vote on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas. The Bricker & Eckler honorees are Maria J. Armstrong (Energy Regulatory Law), Frank L. Merrill (Litigation — Environmental), Thomas J. O’Brien (Communications Law, Energy Law, Water Law), Kurtis A. Tunnell (Government Relations Practice), and Glenn S. Krassen (Energy Law, Natural Resources Law, Oil & Gas Law). 
 
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Sep 08, 2014

Utilities ask PUCO to let consumers bear risk of price changes
 

American Electric Power (AEP), Duke Energy and FirstEnergy Corp. have submitted proposals to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) asking for power purchase agreements so they can get “long-term, guaranteed contracts to buy electricity from their subsidiaries’ power plants at a fixed price,” reports Columbus Business First. The utilities would then sell the electricity on the open market, at rates that “could be higher or lower than what the utilities paid,” and then credit or charge customers for the difference in price, according to the article. Environmental regulations, the closing of some coal-fired power plants, and increasing domestic natural-gas supplies are all putting pressure on the electricity market. Dylan Borchers of Bricker & Eckler, LLP’s regulated industries group, said in the article, “They want the cost recovery without the oversight. It’s not re-regulation.” For more, read the full article
 
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Sep 05, 2014

Ohio Supreme Court upholds PUCO’s decision on Ohio Power Company’s fuel cost collection amount
 

In a unanimous decision, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO)’s order “that determined how much Ohio Power Company could collect in fuel costs for providing electric generation service to customers in 2009,” reports Court News Ohio. The PUCO found that a main reason Ohio Power didn’t recover its 2009 fuel costs was the company’s agreement to terminate early a contract with a major coal supplier; that contract supplied coal to Ohio Power “significantly below the market price,” according to the article. Ohio Power received a settlement as part of the agreement, but then had to purchase coal at the higher market price in 2009. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote in the decision, “[t]he critical flaw in Ohio Power’s arguments is that it wants the commission (and now this court) to consider the 2008 settlement agreement in isolation,” and that “Ohio Power ignores the impact of the settlement agreement in 2008 on 2009 FAC costs.” For more, read the full article
 
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Aug 29, 2014

AEP proposes $31 monthly charge for customers refusing smart meters
 

American Electric Power Company Inc. (AEP) “has asked state regulators to approve a $31.80 monthly fee for customers who don’t want a smart meter,” reports Columbus Business First. According to the article, “[t]he company said the opt-out charge is necessary to pay for meter readers who would have to go out of their way to read remaining traditional meters.” Smart meters automatically send usage data to the service provider. AEP told the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) that the proposed amount was based on average travel time for an electrician earning $28.76 per hour. The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel argued that the fee “should be lowered to $10.49 per month,” based on the time it takes to read a meter, and also said bimonthly readings could be substituted for monthly readings. For more, read the full article.
 
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Aug 28, 2014

Duke Energy announces plans to sell Midwest power plants
 

Dynegy has agreed to pay $2.8 billion in cash to buy Duke Energy’s nonregulated Midwest commercial generation business, reports the Cincinnati Business Courier. Nine of the plants to be sold are in Ohio; however, “Duke Energy spokesman Tom Williams said the sale won’t impact Duke Energy customers in Ohio because the plants aren’t directly tied to the utility,” according to the article. The move is part of Duke Energy’s plan to get out of the merchant generation business. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must approve the sale, which is expected to be completed in three to six months. For more, read the full article
 
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Aug 13, 2014

Utility companies join to request partial regulation
 

American Electric Power (AEP), FirstEnergy and Duke Energy, three of Ohio’s four largest utilities, “are asking state regulators to guarantee profits on a select number of power plants that might otherwise be decommissioned,” according to a recent Columbus Dispatch article. The request would allow the utilities to have a mix of plants with regulated pricing and plants whose prices would rise and fall with the market. If approved, the change would not affect AEP’s and FirstEnergy’s plans to shut down several coal-fired plants that are already scheduled for closure, but could save other plants that are at risk of closing at a later time. The utility companies “say this would lead to more-stable prices and help retain the jobs and electricity from plants that might otherwise close,” according to the article, but “[e]nvironmentalists and consumer groups oppose the plan.” For more, read the full article
 
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Jul 31, 2014

The 2014 National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Summer Meeting
 

Bricker & Eckler LLP attorney J. Thomas Siwo attended the 2014 Summer Meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in Dallas, Texas, from July 13 to 16, 2014. NARUC, founded in 1889, is a nonprofit organization that represents the state public service commissions, which regulate utilities such as energy, telecommunications, water and transportation.
 
The new federal environmental rules regarding greenhouse gas emissions, pipeline safety regulations, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports were among hot topics discussed at this year’s summer meeting with the nation’s state utility regulators. The program included multiple sessions and committee meetings in the areas of water, electricity, gas, telecommunications and consumer affairs. Additionally, featured speakers included Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur, FERC Commissioner Tony Clark, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, and many more.
 
A copy of NARUC’s Summer Meeting program can be accessed here. Additionally, resolutions passed by the Committee of the Whole at the meeting can be accessed here. If you have questions regarding the subject matter presented at the meeting and potential implications for Ohio, contact J. Thomas Siwo at 614.227.2389 or tsiwo@bricker.com.

 
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Jul 29, 2014

Committee recommends energy aggregation; mayor asks for additional options
 

In April, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman appointed a six-person energy committee “to look at adding aggregation” for Columbus electric and natural gas customers, and that committee has recommended opt-out aggregation, according to a Columbus Business First article. Aggregation allows a large number of customers to negotiate with energy providers for lower rates based on their group buying power. Opt-out aggregation, which requires a public vote, automatically enrolls customers, who may opt out of the program if they do not wish to participate. The article reports that “Coleman and [Columbus City Council President Andrew] Ginther want the committee to get back to the drawing board.” Ginther said in a statement, “I appreciate the fact that commission members have carefully studied this issue and its potential impact on Columbus residents. The energy market is complex, and the commission’s continued work will ensure that a wide variety of options have been explored.” For more, read the full article.
 
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May 22, 2014

Fuel cell industry growing in Ohio
 

Ohio companies are increasingly using or producing fuel cells, which is contributing to the growth of that industry in the state. According to an article in Midwest Energy News, “State government has been a major player in transforming Ohio into a top destination for fuel cells, noted Pat Valente, executive director of The Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition (OFCC).” Valente states that Ohio has not quite reached the fuel cell manufacturing status of states like California and Connecticut, but Ohio is considered an “industry leader in supply chain, supply chain development and R&D,” Valente said in the article. A December 2013 Department of Energy report recognizes Ohio as one of five states “for leading the country with continued and expanded support for fuel cell and hydrogen technologies — helping to reduce emissions, improve energy efficiency and create new job and business opportunities.” For more, read the complete article and the DOE report.
 
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May 09, 2014

OSU Fisher College of Business launches energy-focused executive MBA specialization
 

The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University recently launched an energy-focused specialization within its executive master of business administration (EMBA) program, Columbus Business First reports. Centered around the oil and gas industry, classes will look at "the three segments of the oil and gas industry" – exploration and production (upstream), delivery and distribution (midstream), and sales and marketing (downstream). The program "costs $10,000 in addition to the overall EMBA cost of $94,500." Applications will be accepted until October 1st, the article said. For more, read the full story.

 
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May 08, 2014

Columbus seeks energy manager to execute city energy management policies and programs
 

The City of Columbus recently announced that it is hiring for the position of city energy manager. Applications are being accepted online at http://www.csc.columbus.gov. According to the job posting, the energy manager is responsible for developing, coordinating and implementing city energy management policies and programs. Among the examples of work outlined in the posting are the measuring and tracking of the performance of the building systems to determine levels of energy efficiency, and researching and determining the applicability of state-of-the-art renewable energy management techniques and energy engineering technologies. The job number is 14-0756-V1.

 
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Apr 17, 2014

City of Hamilton's $500 million hydroelectric plant is nearing completion
 

The City of Hamilton's $500 million Meldahl Hydroelectric Plant is nearing completion in Foster, Kentucky, the Journal-News reports. First proposed in 2005, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensed the project in 2008. It is expected to be operational by the end of March 2015, at which time it will have the capacity to generate a total 105 megawatts. The city owns a majority stake at 51 percent, with the nonprofit American Municipal Power Inc. owning the rest. Three other hydroelectric plants are currently under construction on the Ohio River, all of which are slated to open by the end of 2015. At that time, Meldahl will be the largest by capacity. For more, read the full story.

 
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Apr 17, 2014

Gov. Kasich swears in Thomas W. Johnson as PUCO chairman
 

On Wednesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich swore in Thomas W. Johnson of Upper Arlington as chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Johnson's five-year term began April 11, 2014, and will end April 10, 2019 (See our March 3, 2014, blog post for more information). Prior to this position, Johnson served 22 years in the Ohio House of Representatives. He was president of the consulting firm Ohio Strategic Advocacy Partners when Gov. Kasich tapped him for the position. He fills the seat vacated by former Chairman Todd Snitchler.

 
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Apr 11, 2014

Newly formed Columbus Energy Review Committee will determine if energy aggregation is right for the city
 

On Thursday, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman and City Council President Andrew J. Ginther jointly announced the formation of a new six-member citizen advisory group – the Columbus Energy Review Committee – that will hold public meetings to determine whether the city should create a local buying group for natural gas and electricity. Ohio law allows consumers to form aggregate groups, including as cities, townships or counties, in order to purchase electricity or natural gas for its members from a single supplier. The benefit is the potential to achieve better prices as a unit than the consumers would individually. Mark R. Shanahan, a principal at New Morning Energy, will chair the group, which will also include the following "representatives from the energy industry, environmental community, neighborhoods and faith community":
  • Regina Clemons, director of emergency assistance, Impact Community Action Agency
  • Aparna Dial, director, Energy Services and Sustainability, Ohio State University
  • Cindy Farson, director, Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging
  • Tyrone Lawes, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church
  • Cheryl Roberto, associate vice president, Environmental Defense Fund, former Columbus Public Utilities director
  • Jim Sweeney, executive director, Franklinton Development Association
For more, read this Columbus Business First story.

 
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Mar 03, 2014

Gov. Kasich appoints former Ohio Rep. Thomas W. Johnson to fill Todd Snitchler's PUCO seat effective April 11
 

On Friday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich named Thomas W. Johnson of Upper Arlington, Franklin County, to a five-year term on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Beginning April 11th, Johnson will fill the seat vacated by Chairman Todd Snitchler (See our Jan 30, 2014, blog post for more information). During his 22 years of service in the Ohio House of Representatives, Johnson represented all or parts of Athens, Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Washington counties. He is currently president of the consulting firm Ohio Strategic Advocacy Partners. His appointment is subject to approval by the Ohio Senate. For more, read the full news release.


 
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Feb 24, 2014

PUCO launches new tool to help consumers comparison shop for energy
 

On Thursday, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) launched the new Energy Choice Ohio website – a highly anticipated tool to help Ohio energy consumers get information about and compare their electric and natural gas supplier choices. The website features information about the steps these consumers need to take when switching suppliers; what their rights are as a consumer; what aggregation is; and a "frequently asked questions page that represents questions the PUCO has received while visiting all 88 counties in the state offering consumer education presentations on every choice." For more, read the full news release.


 
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Feb 19, 2014

FirstEnergy Corp. sells 11 hydroelectric power stations to Hydro Holdings, LLC for $395 million
 

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. recently completed the sale of 11 hydroelectric power stations to Harbor Hydro Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of LS power Equity Partners II, LP, for approximately $395 million. According to the news release, these 11 hydroelectric power stations are owned by FirstEnergy Generation, LLC, Allegheny Energy Supply Company, LLC and Green Valley Hydro, LLC, and have a total capacity of 527 megawatts (MW), representing less than three percent of FirstEnergy's generation fleet output. The sale includes: in Pennsylvania – Seneca Pumped Storage (451 MW) in Warren; Allegheny Lock & Dam 5 (6 MW) in Schenley; Allegheny Lock & Dam 6 (7 MW) in Ford City; and Lake Lynn (52 MW) in Lake Lynn; in West Virginia – Millville (3 MW) in Millville; Dam 4 (2 MW) in Shepherdstown; Dam 5 (1.2 MW) in Falling Waters; and in Virginia – Warren (750 kW) in Front Royal; Luray (1.6 MW) in Luray; and Shenandoah and Newport (860 kW and 1.4 MW, respectively) in Shenandoah. The 35 current employees at these power stations are being retained by the new owner. For more, read the full news release.


 
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Feb 17, 2014

Sen. Seitz asks wind developers to promise they will not punish leaseholders who publicly testify about repealing the state's renewable energy requirements
 

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) cried foul recently when Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) publicly disseminated certain confidential details about leases as part of his ongoing effort to scale back the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report (See our Feb 6, 2014, blog post for more information). Citing concerns that "landowners with wind farms on their property are afraid to testify on legislation in his committee because of confidentiality clauses in their leases," the senator then asked wind developers "to provide written assurance that they would not take action against leaseholders who publicly testify." Iberdrola Renewables, EDP Renewables, juwi Wind, Element Power, Invenergy and EverPower each responded with separate letters informing Sen. Seitz, who chairs the Public Utilities Committee, that certain clauses in the leases "were not intended to prevent property owners from speaking publicly about energy policy." Instead, they said, the clauses were designed "to protect sensitive information about the economics and operations of the company's projects," which the senator did not remove when he disseminated a letter featuring copies of actual leases, the article said.


 
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Jan 30, 2014

PUCO Nominating Council recommends four finalists to Gov. Kasich for Chairman Snitchler's seat
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Nominating Council today announced the four candidates that it is recommending to Gov. John Kasich to fill the seat that will be vacant upon the expiration of Chairman Todd Snitchler's term in April (See our Jan 28, 2014, blog post for more information). The finalists are:

  • Patrick Donlon, Columbus
  • Thomas W. Johnson, Columbus
  • Stacey E. Polk, Cleveland
  • Tom Waniewski, Toledo
Gov. Kasich has 30 days to either select one of these four finalists or request additional recommendations from the council. The governor's selection is then subject to confirmation by the Ohio Senate. The chosen candidate will be appointed a seat on the PUCO, but not necessarily the chairmanship. For more, read the full news release.


 
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Jan 28, 2014

PUCO to interview nine applicants to fill Chairman Todd Snitchler's seat on Thursday
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Nominating Council will meet on Thursday, January 30, 2014, to interview nine of the 27 individuals who applied to fill Chairman Todd Snitchler's seat beginning in April (See our Jan 17, 2014, blog post – "27 apply to fill Chairman Todd Snitchler's seat on the PUCO"). Following a public meeting at 8:45 a.m., the council will convene an executive session to interview the following individuals in Hearing Room 11-B at the PUCO offices at 180 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio:

9:15 a.m.         James M. Lawniczak, Cleveland
9:35 a.m.         Patrick Donlon, Columbus
9:55 a.m.         David C. Rinebolt, Findlay
10:15 a.m.       Tom Waniewski, Toledo
10:35 a.m.       Thomas S. Crothers, Toledo
10:55 a.m.       Break
11:15 a.m.       Stacey E. Polk, Cleveland
11:35 a.m.       James H. Landers, Liberty Township
11:55 a.m.       Joe McNamara, Toledo        
12:15 p.m.       Thomas W. Johnson, Columbus      

The PUCO Nominating Council will reconvene its public session at 12:35 p.m., during which time it will select the four candidates that it will recommend to Gov. John Kasich. The public session will be webcast live here.


 
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Jan 22, 2014

Electric automaker Tesla Motors opens Ohio's first two Supercharger stations as part of its exclusive, free cross-country network
 

After announcing plans to enable their drivers to "travel long distances, for free, indefinitely," the electric car company Tesla Motors recently opened Ohio's first two supercharger stations in Macedonia, Summit County, and Maumee, Lucas County, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. The stations are located off of the Ohio Turnpike near roadside amenities, leading city officials to contemplate how the local businesses can best capitalize on the drivers while they wait the half hour it takes the car to charge. The company plans to have its cross-country network completed by the end of this winter, after which time it said it plans to "go back and convert some of the stations to solar-powered facilities," the article said. These are not Ohio's first electric vehicle (EV) charging stations; however, other public EV charging stations do require payment. Tesla's free Supercharger stations can only be used by drivers of the pricey Tesla EV, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.


 
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Jan 17, 2014

27 apply to fill Chairman Todd Snitchler's seat on the PUCO
 

By the deadline of last Thursday at 5 p.m., 27 individuals had filed applications to fill the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) seat that will be vacant upon Chairman Todd Snitchler's departure in April. Snitchler surprised many when he announced that he would not seek reappointed to a full five-year term (See our Jan 15, 2014, blog post for more information). According to The Plain Dealer, all but two of the 27 applicants are men – Stacey Polk, a Republican attorney in Cleveland and Joyce Martin, an Independent from Columbus who serves as "a consultant on environmental health and regulatory issues before Congress." In addition, former Republican state representatives Thomas Johnson and John Hagan also applied. According to the Gongwer Ohio Report, the following people applied, most of which "described themselves as Republicans":

  • Bradshaw, Dan
  • Conners, P. Ryan
  • Crothers, Thomas S.
  • Donlon, Patrick
  • Gagnon, D. John
  • Hagan, John P.
  • Hines, Michael T.
  • Hogan, John T.
  • Johnson, Steve
  • Johnson, Thomas W.
  • Landers, James H.
  • Lawniczak, James H.
  • Lippert, Michael J.
  • Martin, Joyce M.
  • McNamara, Joe
  • Milliken, James S.
  • Moore, Edmund H.
  • Polk, Stacey E.
  • Reinhart, George A.
  • Rinebolt, David C.
  • Sallach, Martin
  • Sears, Allan
  • Smith, Bryan M.
  • Stacy II, Thomas F.
  • Tatarian, Christopher A.
  • Waniewski, Tom
  • Warner, Christopher L.
The 12-member PUCO Nominating Council has 30 days to recommend four candidates to Gov. John Kasich, who then has 30 days to pick one or request more recommendations from the council, the article said. For more, read the full Plain Dealer story.


 
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Jan 15, 2014

PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler will not seek reappointment
 

After a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) spokesman confirmed late last month that Chairman Todd Snitchler intended to reapply for his position on the commission following the expiration of his term in April, the PUCO announced today that Snitchler will not seek reappointment (See our Dec 31, 2013, blog post for more information). The 12-member Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Nominating Council is accepting applications for the position until 5 p.m. EST on January 16, 2014, and is conducting interviews for the position on January 30, 2014. The position is for a five-year term; however, Gov. John Kasich appointment Snitchler in 2011 to finish the term of Alan Schriber upon his retirement. A list of applicants is expected to be released on Thursday and will be available here. For more, read the full news release.


 
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Jan 03, 2014

PUCO releases its 2013 year in review
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently released its 2013 year in review. PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler highlighted several points in his introduction, including the plan to move the Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) company to a competitive position in the market, making it the last of the four investor-owned Ohio utilities to have such a plan in place. The PUCO also approved plans for Columbia Gas of Ohio and Dominion East Ohio to transition out of the role of providing gas supply for non-residential customers. In addition, "the PUCO approved safety improvements at over 90 railroad crossings, and awarded 23 hazardous material training grants" totaling $807,373 to be used to train more than 7,800 public safety and emergency services professionals throughout Ohio. For more, read the full review.


 
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Dec 31, 2013

Applications for the PUCO commissioner position must be submitted by January 16, 2014
 

The 12-member Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Nominating Council is accepting applications for a commissioner position until 5 p.m. EST on January 16, 2014, and is conducting interviews for the position on January 30, 2014. The position is for a five-year term beginning on April 11, 2014, and it is subject to Gov. John Kasich's appointment as well as confirmation by the Ohio Senate. The position will fill the seat vacated upon the expiration of Chairman Todd Snitchler's term. To be considered for the full-time position, applicants must have a minimum of three years' experience in economics, law, finance, accounting, engineering, physical sciences, natural resources or environmental studies. The appointment must also not tip the balance of political party affiliation to more than three for either side. Currently, there are two Republicans, two Democrats and two Independents on the PUCO. According to the Gongwer Ohio Report, a commission spokesman confirmed that Snitchler is planning to reapply for the job.


 
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Dec 11, 2013

Industry leaders fear that federally designating the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species could cause significant hardships for Ohio projects
 

A preliminary decision announced in October by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to place the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) on the endangered species list is causing concern for "Ohioans with interests in coal mining, electricity transmission, oil and gas drilling, and road-and-bridge improvement," The Plain Dealer reports. The bat, which is facing extinction due to a disease called white-nose syndrome, tends to "roost in loose tree bark in the summer" and also likes to hibernate in abandoned mines. In addition to claiming that there is no indication that the bat is going extinct in the Midwest specifically, those in the aforementioned industries are expressing concerns that requirements for protecting the bats could result in significant project delays and other hardships. They also take issue with the fact that the preliminary decision fails to establish critical habitat for the species, which could potentially cause "wide variances between how different [Fish and Wildlife Service] field offices are handling the issue," the article said.

Bricker & Eckler actively participates in the Ohio Power Siting Board's (OPSB) regulatory process for reviewing and approving the construction of major utility facilities (electric generating power plants greater than 50 megawatts), economically significant wind farms (those greater than 5 megawatts), electric transmission lines and certain natural gas pipelines. Our legal team counsels clients regarding post-certification conditions relating to the construction and operation of new electric generating facilities, and advises them on environmental permitting issues and construction matters. For more information, visit our OPSB services webpage.


 
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Nov 25, 2013

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners holds 125th Annual Meeting
 

Bricker & Eckler LLP attorneys J. Thomas Siwo and Dylan Borchers attended the 125th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in Orlando, Florida, from November 17-20, 2013.  NARUC, founded in 1889, is a nonprofit organization that represents the state public service commissions, which regulate the utilities such as energy, telecommunications, water and transportation.

This year’s theme was “Managing Risk: Protecting Consumer and Critical Assets.”  The program included multiple sessions and committee meetings in the areas of water, electricity, gas, telecommunications and consumer affairs.  The Electricity Committee held sessions on topics such as clean coal and carbon sequestration, FERC Order 1000, and recent developments in net-metering and reliability issues associated with the generation sector.  A primary topic addressed in the Gas Committee included developments in federal pipeline safety regulations.  Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Todd Snitchler moderated the panel: “The New Frontier: The Environmental and Economic Implications of Carbon Restrictions.”

A copy of NARUC’s 125th Annual Meeting program can be accessed here.  Additionally, resolutions passed by the Committee of the Whole at the meeting can be accessed here.  If you have questions regarding the subject matter presented at the meeting and potential implications for Ohio, contact J. Thomas Siwo at 614.227.2389 or tsiwo@bricker.com, or Dylan Borchers at 614.227.4914 or dborchers@bricker.com.


 
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Nov 15, 2013

Two Ohio senators introduce S.C.R. 25 to ban LEED certification in all public construction
 

Last week, Ohio Senators Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) and Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 to stop Ohio's state agencies and government entities from using the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] LEED v4 green building system because it "fails to conform to recognized voluntary standard development procedures."  S.C.R. 25 instead suggests the state use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures because they are "open, transparent, and voluntary consensus standards" that are "properly grounded in science and include the use of environmental and health criteria that are based on risk assessment methodology generally accepted by applicable scientific disciplines." In a letter to the editor of The Columbus Dispatch, Tyler Steele, chairman of the USGBC's Central Ohio Chapter, defended the use of the LEED system and asserted that the senators are attempting to "ban LEED in all public construction" because the "an out-of-state consortium of chemical companies is upset that the latest version of LEED would make occupants aware of the chemical ingredients within their building materials." For more, read the full letter to the editor of The Columbus Dispatch.


 
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Oct 10, 2013

DP&L Tait generating station in Montgomery County goes online
 

Virginia-based AES Energy Storage, LLC recently announced that with the commercial operation of its 40 MW resource – the Dayton Power and Light's (DP&L) Tait generating station in Moraine in Montgomery County – the AES Corporation is now operating more than 100 MW of grid-scale storage resources. This facility is the company's fifth to run on its Storage Operation System (SOS) and features a battery array that includes more than 800,000 battery cells. It is intended to "meet the needs otherwise provided by power generation from inefficient or retiring power plants, reducing overall system emissions and water use while optimizing existing grid resources."


 
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Sep 29, 2013

Cincinnati receives federal Green Power Leadership Award
 

For its "leadership and citizen engagement in dramatically increasing its use of green power," the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) recently awarded the city of Cincinnati one of two 2013 Green Power Leadership Awards, Cincinnati Business Courier reports. The city's Community Choice Aggregation program "allows people to get all of their power from green sources" and helped the city use 508 million kW hours of green power per year – "enough to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of 60,000 cars a year," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 12, 2013

Athens is the latest Ohio municipality to consider an electricity aggregation measure
 

Athens City Council and Athens County commissioners are both putting electric aggregation initiatives on the November ballot, Ohio University's The Post reports. Passage of either would enable "the city and county to work in tandem" to purchase electricity that the city could then sell "at a lower cost to residents." Residents would be able to opt out of the program, the article said. Dayton is considering a similar measure, as is the Village and Township of Granville (See our Aug 07, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 11, 2013

Bricker & Eckler law firm hosts ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil its new Marietta office
 

More than 200 community leaders, including Mayor Joe Matthews, members of the Board of Washington County Commissioners, the Marietta Chamber of Commerce and the Marietta City Council, joined Bricker & Eckler during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception yesterday to unveil the firm's fourth and newest Ohio location at 258 Front Street in downtown Marietta. Recognizing that Southeast Ohio is poised for tremendous growth, the firm chose Marietta to help its existing and new clients achieve success that is sustained for the long term, and to encourage prosperity in an area where many of its attorneys have family ties. The firm will assist clients in the region with health care, education law, economic development efforts, and public finance and public sector issues, as well as shale oil and gas leasing and litigation issues. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 06, 2013

Waste heat power generator to be located in Lancaster
 

After working with city of Lancaster and the regional economic development group Columbus 2020, Florida-based Cyclone Power Technologies announced last week that it will locate a generator that converts waste heat energy to electricity in Lancaster, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Cyclone's Ohio-based subsidiary, Cyclone-WHE, will operate the plant along with a partner company out of Carrol called Precision CNC. Production is expected to begin next year, with employment projected to reach "100 people by 2016," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 01, 2013

Ohio Wesleyan University to host colloquium on the interdisciplinary impacts of climate change
 

"International artists, scholars and writers from diverse fields" are going to offer their various perspectives on the issue of climate change during this year's Sagan National Colloquium at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Events run from Sept. 12 through Oct. 29, the presentations from which will be streamed online. For more, including a schedule of speakers, read the full story and visit the colloquium website.


 
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Aug 07, 2013

Dayton is the latest Ohio municipality to consider an electricity aggregation measure
 

Dayton residents and small businesses could save between $100 and $200 per year if "voters approve a November ballot measure allowing the city to group customers into a single buying block," Dayton Daily News reports. The electricity aggregation measure has an opt-out feature for those who don't wish to join and an exemption for those currently under set-term contracts. Two-hundred Ohio cities and townships "are already aggregating residents to buy electricity," the article said (See our June 21, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.


 
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Aug 05, 2013

Low-tech building materials are benefiting from a new surge in green building construction
 

A new report from Navigant Research found that low-tech building materials such as wood, straw and bamboo are benefiting from increased demand in green building materials, Denver Business Journal reports. The report, "Materials in Green Buildings," said the "global market for green construction materials is expected to be more than $254 billion a year in 2020, up from $116 billion in 2013." For more, read the full story and report.


 
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Jul 29, 2013

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) outlines how two pieces of federal legislation would impact Ohio
 

U.S. Representative Jim Renacci (R-OH) wrote a commentary for The Daily Record last week describing the impact that two recently introduced pieces of legislation could have on Ohio. The Energy Consumers Relief would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to "submit a cost benefit analysis report to Congress before the agency can impose any new rule or regulation that will result in more than $1 billion in compliance costs." Because Ohio relies so heavily on coal for electricity, Renacci said this bill would prevent consumer costs from increasing drastically. Renacci co-sponsored the second piece of legislation, called the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act. He said that this bill would prevent the EPA from unnecessarily designating coal ash as a "hazardous material." Allowing the agency to move forward, he said, would put "up to 316,000 jobs at risk," as compliance costs could result in coal-fired power plants being shut down completely, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 26, 2013

Daniel Hawkins to replace Harland H. Hale as Franklin County's environmental court judge
 

Last week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced the appointment of Franklin County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Hawkins as the new judge on the Franklin County Municipal Court, Environmental Division, effective July 29, 2013, The Columbus Dispatch reports. He is replacing Judge Harland H. Hale, who retired. Hawkins will have to run in November if he wants to retain the seat for the remainder of the unexpired term, which ends January 7, 2016. For more, read the full story and press release.


 
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Jul 23, 2013

Bricker & Eckler law firm opens Marietta office
 

With existing locations in Columbus, Cleveland and West Chester, Bricker & Eckler today announced the opening of its newest Ohio location at 258 Front St. in Marietta, The Marietta Times reports. Christopher Slagle, partner in charge of the Marietta office, said an eagerness to give back to and help create prosperity within southeast Ohio drove the decision to expand there. The firm moves into Washington County with 350 active clients in the region covering areas such as health care, education, water districts, manufacturing, banking and other public and private entities. Associate Matt Warnock, who worked to help organize the Southeastern Ohio Landowners Association (SEOLA) and then negotiate 10 leasing deals with six different oil and gas companies involving nearly 70,000 acres, said that oil and gas matters will also account for a significant amount of activity in the Marietta office. An open house event is being planned for Sept. 10, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 16, 2013

City of Lima to enter into a reverse auction with electric companies to save on power bill
 

In an effort to save between $200,000 and $300,000 on its annual power bill, the Lima City Council approved legislation this week that will allow the city to enter into a "reverse auction with electric power companies," Your Hometown Lima Stations reports. The city, which currently spends about two million dollars each year on its power bills, will receive bids from power companies and will have the option to choose the lowest bid, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 19, 2013

Survey says companies with green practices and products earn higher profits
 

A national survey of 1,305 small businesses found those who offered green products and services were "far more likely to report strong revenue growth" through the Great Recession than their conventional counterparts. Undertaken by the nonprofit ethical consumerism group Green America, the microenterprise advocacy group Association for Enterprise Opportunity and the sustainable development company EcoVentures International, "Small Business Sustainability Report, 2013: The Big Green Opportunity for Small Business in the U.S." features several figures, including that:

  • from 2006-2011, the green building segment grew 1,700 percent compared to the overall market's 17 percent contraction; 
  • from 2002-2011, the use of renewable energy grew 456 percent while use of non-renewable fuels fell by 3.2 percent; and
  • from 2002-2001, the organic food segment grew 238 percent compared to the overall food market's 33 percent growth.
For more, read the full press release and report.


 
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May 03, 2013

Ohio Power Siting Board approves expansion of Rolling Hills facility in Vinton County
 

Yesterday, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) authorized Rolling Hills Generating, LLC to increase "its existing natural gas-fired electric generating facility in Wilkesville, Ohio, from 860 megawatts (MW) to 1,414 MW" by converting four existing simple-cycle combustion turbines into combined-cycle turbines, a press release from the board announced. Construction will take 30 months and is expected to commence in 2014, a company press release said. The combined-cycle mode will enable "excess heat from four of the five existing gas turbine-generator sets" to generate steam for two new steam turbine-generator sets, the releases said. Bricker & Eckler partner Sally Bloomfield served as counsel on the project. For more, read the full OPSB press release and the full company press release.


 
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Apr 11, 2013

PUCO member to head up commerce department, leaving vacancy on the PUCO
 

Gov. John Kasich recently appointed Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) member Andre Porter to serve as director of the Ohio Department of Commerce – a vacancy left last month when the department's former director, David Goodman, was named Ohio Development Services Agency director, The Columbus Dispatch and a press release from the governor's office report. Porter, whom Gov. Kasich appointed to the PUCO in 2011, will begin his new position on April 22, 2013, thereby leaving a vacancy on the PUCO. For more, read the full Columbus Dispatch story and the full press release.


 
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Mar 22, 2013

Ohio had fifth-highest number of green jobs in 2011
 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio had the fifth-highest number of jobs associated with green goods and services (GGS) in 2011 with 137,143 jobs, North American Windpower reports. That year, the number of green jobs in the U.S. increased by 157,746 to 3,401,279 – representing 2.6 percent of the total U.S. workforce, the article said. For more, read the full North American Windpower story and the Green Goods and Services Summary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


 
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Mar 11, 2013

Ohio created 800 clean energy sector jobs in 2012
 

A new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) shows that of the 110,000 clean energy jobs created in the United States in 2012, Ohio companies contributed nearly 800 new jobs, WOSU reports. An E2 spokesperson said the report, titled "2012 Clean Energy Jobs Year-In-Review and Fourth Quarter Report," is "largely anecdotal," with statistics calculated using company press releases and new job announcements, the article said. For more, read the full story and the full report.


 
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Feb 22, 2013

An analysis of Gov. Kasich’s proposed budget and how it could affect manufacturers
 

Earlier this week, Bricker & Eckler partner Mark A. Engel wrote an analysis of how H.B. 59 – Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget – could potentially affect manufacturers through its expansion of the sales tax to include additional “services.” For more, read the full analysis.


 
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Feb 21, 2013

High gas prices prompt drivers to consider switching to electric vehicles
 

With gas prices in Ohio creeping up toward $4, worried drivers are paying renewed attention to vehicles that operate using alternative energy sources, such as electric cars, WTVG reports. Bowling Green State University currently offers six free electric car charging stations – three on campus and three in downtown Bowling Green – where drivers must only pay a parking meter to charge their vehicles. University officials plan to monitor the stations’ usage during the next six months to make sure that the parking space charge is sufficient to cover the cost of the service. For those driving electric vehicles outside of Bowling Green, new mobile applications are available to help drivers locate other electric charging stations. For more, watch the full broadcast.


 
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Feb 19, 2013

Gov. Kasich appoints Beth Trombold to fill PUCO vacancy
 

Although Ohio law considers her unaffiliated, Gov. Kasich’s appointment pick for the seat on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that was vacated by Cheryl Roberto has some crying foul, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Beth Trombold, a former PUCO staff member who last year become an assistant director at the Ohio Development Services Agency, voted in the 2000, 2004 and 2006 Republican primaries; however, because she was not registered with either party in the most recent election cycle, Ohio law considers her an independent, the article said. Ohio law forbids either party from having more than three members on the five-person PUCO panel and since it already has three Republican members, the open seat “must go to an independent or Democrat,” the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jan 30, 2013

PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler maintained ties with a group that works to repeal states’ renewable energy requirements
 

Since the PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler’s personal “tweets,” which appeared critical of renewable energy, were picked up by various news outlets, it was noted today that the chairman has also maintained ties with the influential conservative group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) since assuming the chairmanship in March 2011, The Columbus Dispatch reports (See the Jan 25, 2013, blog – “Columbus Dispatch editorial discusses public figures’ use of social media”). The ALEC supports repealing states’ renewable energy mandates. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jan 29, 2013

AEP Ohio wins award for its energy efficiency education program
 

The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance awarded American Electric Power Ohio with the Inspiring Efficiency Education Award for its e3smart program, which “teaches middle school teachers and students about energy efficiency and how to save energy at home,” Logan Daily News reports. Developed by the energy education program provider Ohio Energy Project and funded from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund, e3smart provides lesson plans on energy efficiency to teachers and distributes free energy-saving products to their classes, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jan 25, 2013

The Plain Dealer editorial addresses PUCO chairman’s “tweets”
 

Another major Ohio newspaper – this time The Plain Dealer – is using its editorial section to address the recent attention drawn to PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler’s “tweets,” which appear critical of renewable energy and skeptical of climate change (See the Jan 16, 2013, blog – “Akron Beacon Journal editorial addresses PUCO chairman’s ‘tweets’”). For more, read the full story.


 
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Jan 25, 2013

Columbus Dispatch editorial discusses public figures’ use of social media
 

In a Columbus Dispatch editorial published today, the editorial board advised everyone to be more circumspect with regard to what they post on social media. Particular focus was given to public figures, such as Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar for her use of a possible Adolf Hitler quote on her Facebook page in response to President Barack Obama’s proposed gun-control measures, as well as PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler’s “tweets,” which appear generally critical of alternative energy, the article said (See the Jan 25, 2013, blog – “The Plain Dealer editorial addresses PUCO chairman’s ‘tweets’”). For more, read the full story.


 
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Jan 23, 2013

Committee and subcommittee assignments made for Ohio House of Representatives
 

Gongwer reports that House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) announced the membership of the House’s 17 committees and subcommittees, as well as these committees’ meeting times and locations. Below is the meeting time and committee members for public utilities.

Public Utilities – Wednesdays, 10 a.m., Room 121
: Peter Stautberg (Chair) (R-Cincinnati), Kristina Roegner (Vice Chair) (R-Hudson), John Adams (R-Sidney), Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati), James Butler (R-Oakwood), Margaret Conditt (R-Liberty Twp.) , Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville), Christina Hagan (R-Alliance), Mark Romanchuk (R-Mansfield), Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), Louis Terhar (R-Cincinnati), Andy Thompson (R-Marietta), Sandra Williams (Ranking Minority Member) (D-Cleveland), Mike Ashford (D-Toledo), Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus), Nicholas Celebrezze (D-Parma), Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), Sean O’Brien (D-Brookfield), Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus), Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton), Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon)


 
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Jan 22, 2013

State Rep. Mike Foley wants PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler to explain his personal “tweets” about renewable energy and global warming
 

The Associated Press reports that State Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) is asking PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler to explain “tweets” from his personal Twitter account that appear critical of renewable energy and the existence of global warming (See the Jan 14, 2013, blog – “PUCO chairman ‘tweets’ about renewable energy in spotlight”). For more, read the full story.


 
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Jan 16, 2013

Akron Beacon Journal editorial addresses PUCO chairman’s “tweets”
 

An editorial featured on the Akron Beacon Journal website addresses the recent attention drawn to PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler’s “tweets” and “re-tweets,” which appear critical of renewable energy or skeptical of climate change (See the Jan 14, 2013 blog – "PUCO chairman 'tweets' about renewable energy in spotlight"). For more, read the full editorial.


 
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Jan 14, 2013

PUCO chairman “tweets” about renewable energy in spotlight
 

Recent attention has been drawn to PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler’s Twitter account, which features several “tweets” or “re-tweets” that appear critical of renewable energy or skeptical of climate change.  Read the full story.


 
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Jan 11, 2013

Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee and Energy and Natural Resources Committee memberships announced
 

Gongwer reports that Senate President Keith Faber released the membership roster for the chamber’s standing committees, including:  

Public Utilities Committee: Chairman Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati); Vice Chairman LaRose; Sen. Balderson; Sen. Bill Coley (R-West Chester); Sen. Eklund; Sen. Hite; Sen. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro); Sen. Patton; Sen. Uecker; Sen. Gentile, ranking minority member; Sen. Tom Sawyer (D-Akron); Sen. Smith; Sen. Cafaro.

Energy and Natural Resources Committee: Chairman Balderson; Vice Chairman Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Powell); Sen. John Eklund (R-Chardon); Sen. Hite; Sen. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville); Sen. Peterson; Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster); Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland); Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Youngstown), ranking minority member; Sen. Cafaro; Sen. Gentile.


 
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Jan 02, 2013

PUCO receives 26 applications for vacant seat
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio received 26 applications for the seat vacated Monday by Commissioner Cheryl Roberto, The Associated Press reports. Among the applicants are Sen. Shirley Smith and Rep. Sandra Williams, both Cleveland Democrats, as well as the long-time senior counsel for outgoing Congressman Dennis Kucinich, PUCO staffers and an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency environmental lawyer, the article said. Roberto’s seat cannot go to a Republican because that party “already controls three of five seats,” the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 28, 2012

AEP Ohio gives Wyandot County $4,000 for economic development
 

Recently, American Electric Power Ohio gifted a $4,000 local economic assistance program grant to the Wyandot County Office of Economic Development, Daily Chief-Union reports. The grant will help the office “with its administration of the business retention and expansion program in Wyandot County,” the article said. AEP Ohio’s grant program was developed to help areas retain and attract manufacturing jobs and investments. Since the program’s inception, the company has given 165 grants totaling $403,875 throughout the AEP Ohio service territory, the article said.


 
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Dec 18, 2012

Denise Bode to step down as CEO of the American Wind Energy Association
 

Denise Bode will step down as chief executive officer of the American Wind Energy Association on January 1, 2013, to return to private practice as a tax lawyer, at which time Rom Gramlich – the current senior vice president for public policy – will take over as interim CEO, Bloomberg reports. Bode was hired in January 2009 to “help lock in federal and state incentives for the wind industry,” but Congress has yet to extend the production tax credit that is set to expire the day Bode steps down, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 14, 2012

American Wind Energy Association asks Congress for a six-year phaseout of the production tax credit
 

The American Wind Energy Association submitted a proposal to U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, that would extend a tax break on the industry for six years, Bloomberg reports. The group insists the time frame is “long enough to cut costs and short enough to ease fears the credit will become a permanent part of the tax code,” the article said. The proposed plan would keep “100 percent of the current 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour for projects started in 2013,” falling to 90 percent for projects completed in 2014, 80 percent in 2015, 70 percent in 2016 and 60 percent in 2017 and 2018, which would be the credit’s final year, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 29, 2012

Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel announces position opening for public affairs liaison
 

The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Council recently announced an opening for the position of public affairs liaison. Job duties include working with the director of public affairs and others at OCC to advocate for residential consumers through legislative and community outreach, as well as other communications efforts such as social media, media, publications, etc. For more, read the full position description.


 
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Nov 12, 2012

FirstEnergy Corp. to cut 400 jobs by 2016
 

Citing continued low demand and low power prices, FirstEnergy Corp. recently announced that beginning next year, it will cut 400 jobs by 2016 through “normal attrition,” The Plain Dealer reports (See the Nov 02, 2012, blog – “FirstEnergy Corp. lays off 142 employees, including 56 in Akron”). Third-quarter financial results showed the company profits were down “nearly 20 percent compared with the same period in 2011,” the article said. For more, read the full story as well as this Akron Beacon Journal story.


 
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Nov 12, 2012

PUCO seeks public comment in interconnection rule and net metering rule dockets
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio released a Combined Heat and Power Bulletin last week that describes two sets of proposed rules that may be “of interest to CHP developers, potential facilities, and the regulated community.” In the first set of draft rules, available here, the commission seeks comment on issues including “the interconnection application process, field-tested equipment, financial risk, capacity limits, and interconnection queue transparency,” the bulletin said. The commission then requested comment on the second set of draft rules, available here, regarding “a variety of net metering issues as well as the implementation of a standard market-based rate for electricity and capacity transactions between utilities and cogeneration facilities.” In the interconnection rule docket, interested parties must file comments by November 19, 2012, and reply comments by December 4, 2012. Comments are due by January 7, 2013, and reply comments by February 6, 2013, in the net metering rule docket. It is requested that the case number be included in the subject line and comments mailed to:

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
Attn: Docketing Division
180 E. Broad St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Questions may be directed to chp@puc.state.oh.us


 
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Nov 06, 2012

PUCO requests comments on proposed rule changes for Interconnection Services
 

Pursuant to Section 119.032 of the Ohio Revised Code, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) conducted a review of the existing interconnection service rules recently to “determine whether to continue their rules without change, amend the rules, or rescind the rules,” a proceeding from the PUCO said. As part of the “Common Sense Initiative” established in Governor Kasich’s Executive Order 2011-01K, PUCO was also charged with reviewing its existing rules to ensure that the regulatory objectives are balanced with the “cost of compliance by the regulated parties” and that rules be rescinded or amended if they are found to be “unnecessary, ineffective, contradictory, redundant, inefficient, or needlessly burdensome, or that have had negative unintended consequences, or unnecessarily impede business growth.” Comments are due by November 19, 2012, and reply comments must be filed by December 4, 2012.


 
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Nov 02, 2012

FirstEnergy Corp. lays off 142 employees, including 56 in Akron
 

Yesterday, FirstEnergy Corp. laid off 142 employees, 56 of whom worked in support services in the Akron area, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. The number laid off fell below the previously announced 200, however further reductions are expected in 2013 (See the Sep 21, 2012, blog – “FirstEnergy Corp. to lay off 200 in Akron in November"). The remainder of the layoffs were in Greensburg and Reading, both in Pennsylvania, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 23, 2012

Betty Simkins, PhD, will discuss the energy renaissance and its implications for U.S. energy policy at Case Western University next month
 

Betty Simkins, PhD, the Williams Companies professor of business and a professor of finance in the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University, will speak on Thursday, November 15, 2012, at 2 p.m. as part of the 2012 Energy Alliance Speaker Series at Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Nord 310, Cleveland, Ohio, 44106. The topic of her presentation is “The Energy Renaissance and Implications for U.S. Energy Policy” and will address “five energy realities” that she says must be faced if the United States is going to efficiently use and understand the resources it has now as it prepares for its next energy transition. For more, including registration information, visit the event's website.


 
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Oct 22, 2012

GEM Energy to host Mission Critical Power and Data Center Summit in Toledo next month
 

GEM Energy, IBM and the University of Toledo are hosting a Mission Critical Power and Data Center Summit on Wednesday, November 7, 2012, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University of Toledo Nitschke Hall, SSOE Seminar Room, 1610 N. Westwood, Toledo, Ohio, 43607. The event is free, but space is limited to the first 100 registrants. The event will feature a number of speakers giving presentations on managing energy costs and reliability in mission critical and data center operations, and will have Dr. Robert Hirsch as its keynote speaker. For more information, including how to register, visit the event’s website.


 
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Oct 18, 2012

First Energy Solutions will host an energy summit in Columbus on November 15th
 

FirstEnergy Solutions is hosting a free educational seminar on how businesses can save money through electric choice on Thursday, November 15, 2012, from 8:00 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the Hilton Columbus at Easton, 3900 Chagrin Drive, Columbus, Ohio, 43219. The event is open to large businesses served by AEP Ohio in the Columbus area and will include a regulatory overview for the area’s utility market, insights on price drivers for energy buyers and discussions on how rising capacity prices will affect businesses in the near future and what businesses can do now to avoid higher costs. FES hosted a similar event this morning in Canton and will host two more in Pennsylvania before returning to Ohio. For more, including registration information, visit the FirstEnergy Solutions Fall 2012 Energy Summit Series website here.


 
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Oct 16, 2012

Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr. to speak at advanced energy conference in Columbus
 

Bill Ritter Jr., Colorado’s 41st governor and the current director of the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University, will be a keynote speaker at the Advanced Energy B2B Conference & Expo, Toledo News Now reports. The event takes place from October 30-31 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus. Ritter will speak on Tuesday, October 30, at 9:30 a.m. (See the Oct 5, 2012, blog – "PUCO chairman to be keynote speaker at advanced energy conference").


 
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Oct 16, 2012

Newspaper examines the Advanced Energy Stimulus Program since its 2008 launch
 

An article published yesterday on The Toledo Blade website explores in-depth the current problems faced and successes enjoyed by Ohio's $150 million Advanced Energy Job Stimulus Program that began in 2008 as part of a $1.57 billion bipartisan state stimulus package. Problems include the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority's having to build a loan program from scratch and possibly not having established procedures in place for alerting all relevant parties when loan recipients are in financial trouble, while the Quasar Energy Group's waste-to-energy project in Columbus is offered as an example of a success story for the program, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 05, 2012

PUCO chairman to be keynote speaker at advanced energy conference
 

Todd A. Snitchler, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), will be the keynote speaker at the first statewide Advanced Energy B2B Conference & Expo, according to a press releases from Advanced Energy Economy Ohio and NorTech (See the Aug 15, 2012, blog – “Expo returns to highlight business-to-business opportunities in Ohio’s advanced energy industry”). The event will take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus from October 30-31, 2012.  Snitchler is scheduled to speak at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, October 31, on the role PUCO plays in “fostering a strong energy economy across the state,” as well as the challenges and opportunities facing the state’s current electricity systems infrastructure, the release said.


 
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Sep 27, 2012

300,000 all-electric FirstEnergy Corp. customers take their claim to the Ohio Supreme Court
 

An attorney representing approximately 300,000 of FirstEnergy Corp.’s all-electric customers asked the Ohio Supreme Court to allow his clients to sue the company for fraud, alleging that “FirstEnergy’s decision to partially end the deep discounts after 35 years lowered the value of their homes,” The Plain Dealer reports. After losing their original case in the Geauga County Common Pleas Court, these consumers are hoping that the Supreme Court will allow them to sue FirstEnergy for fraud based on the company’s alleged promise that “if they converted to all-electric homes,” then their homes would be “more valuable,” the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Sep 27, 2012

Cornell University professor emeritus to speak about the electric grid of the future
 

Robert Thomas, PhD, professor emeritus of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University, will speak at Case Western Reserve University on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, at 2 p.m. as part of the 2012-2013 Energy Alliance Speaker Series. The lecture, titled “Thoughts on a Path to an Electric Grid of the Future,” will discuss some of the technologies being considered and used to help modernize the infrastructure for U.S. bulk power utilities. For more, including ticket information, visit the event’s website here.


 
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Sep 21, 2012

FirstEnergy Corp. to lay off 200 in Akron in November
 

FirstEnergy Corp. announced on Wednesday that it expects to lay off 200 people within its headquarters and the headquarters of its competitive subsidiary, FirstEnergy Solutions Corp., both of which are in Akron, The Akron Beacon Journal reports. With a sluggish economy leading to “slow customer load growth” and abundant supply driving down price, the utility said it would conduct an organizational study mainly of its “business development, corporate affairs, human resources, information technology and supply chain departments,” as well as its management employees, to determine how best to reduce its workforce and streamline its activities, the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Sep 18, 2012

PUCO holds combined heat and power (CHP) workshop regarding stand-by rates
 

On September 13, 2012, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) hosted a combined heat and power (CHP) workshop regarding stand-by rates, which are utility rates that a customer pays in order to receive power at times when its own distributed generation is unexpectedly unavailable or for maintenance reasons.  The CHP workshop included several presentations by PUCO staff members, electric distribution utility companies and representatives from various customer classes.  To view the podcast or for more information, please visit the PUCO’s CHP website here.


 
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Sep 12, 2012

Lawyer and AEP customer files complaint with PUCO over spoiled food
 

John K. Keller, a partner with Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease in Columbus and an American Electric Power customer residing in Powell, has filed a formal complaint with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio alleging that “the company’s failure to maintain its system has cost him $1,500 worth of spoiled food,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. Keller lost power for six days following the June 29 storm because a tree that had been “marked for removal for several weeks” fell across Rt. 315 near the intersection with Powell Road, the article said. While AEP argued that nothing in the complaint “constitutes inadequate service” and that the storm was “an act of God,” Keller maintains that because AEP was not “paying attention to management of trees,” they violated the company’s terms of service. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Aug 31, 2012

PUCO glad that combined heat and power (CHP) is receiving attention
 

Todd A. Snitchler, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), said in a bulletin today that he is encouraged by the attention combined heat and power received in the executive order signed by President Obama yesterday (See the Aug 31, 2012, blog – “President Obama signs executive order on industrial energy efficiency”). Snitchler also said that Ohio is “at the forefront of CHP development” and that a workshop designed to “help industrial boiler operators learn how combined heat and power can help them meet changing U.S. EPA Clean Air Act regulations” is scheduled for September 13, 2012, the bulletin said. For more information, including how to register for the workshop, read this PUCO bulletin here.


 
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Aug 30, 2012

Association of Ohio Recyclers to host annual conference October 29-30 in Cincinnati
 

The Association of Ohio Recyclers (AOR) Conference will be held at the Cincinnati Zoo Conference Center on October 29-30, 2012. Cincinnati-based Rumpke Recycling is the convening sponsor, and the theme of the conference is “Sustainable Materials Management,” according to AOR’s website. Key program topics include workshops on “Ohio EPA’s review of House Bill 592 and emerging technologies for glass recycling and reuse.”


 
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Aug 23, 2012

Audit reports released in FirstEnergy’s three percent cost cap case regarding renewable energy credits (RECS)
 

The two independent audit reports concluding that FirstEnergy Solutions overpaid for renewable energy credits (RECS) are now available online (See the Aug 17, 2012, blog - "Audits find FirstEnergy Corp. overpaid by millions for renewable energy credits (RECS)").


 
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Aug 22, 2012

Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance seeks commercial operations director
 

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance – a regional energy efficiency nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating investment in energy efficiency for the residential, non-profit and small commercial sectors of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region – is seeking a commercial operations director to “lead the technical aspects of the Energy Alliance’s commercial projects,” including walk-through energy assessments, scope review, construction management, project compliance and quality assurance, according to a job posting from the alliance.


 
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Aug 17, 2012

Audits find FirstEnergy Corp. overpaid by millions for renewable energy credits (RECS)
 

Two independent audits found that FirstEnergy Solutions – an unregulated affiliate of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. – spent “millions of dollars more than it should have” between late 2009 and the end of 2011 to purchase RECS that were then purchased by FirstEnergy Corp., The Plain Dealer reports. The audits found that these companies paid up to 15 times more for their RECS than they would have paid “had they just paid the fines,” the article said. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio allowed FirstEnergy Corp. to pass these costs on to customers in its recent approval of FirstEnergy’s rate case, however, these audits are expected to be discussed “in appeals to [the] rate case decision,” which are due on Friday, according to the article. For more, read the full story here.

Both audits are now available online.


 
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Aug 17, 2012

Report: Ohio is sixth in the nation for clean energy jobs
 

In the latest Clean Energy Jobs Roundup report from the national industry group, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Ohio ranks as the sixth best state in the nation for creating clean energy jobs during the second quarter of 2012, Dayton Business Journal reports. The report cited four projects announced in Ohio with 712 possible jobs, the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Jul 13, 2012

Ohio Clean Energy Transmission Conference to focus on developing a clean energy grid in the PJM interconnection
 

The Energy and Environment Office of The Ohio State University and the organization Americans for a Clean Energy Grid will co-host the Ohio Clean Energy Transmission Conference to discuss “how the PJM interconnection – the world’s largest competitive electricity market – would benefit from more renewable energy and a modernized transmission grid,” according to a press release for the event. The event, featuring clean energy industry experts, environmental advocates, business leaders, policy makers and Todd A. Snitchler, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, will take place on Monday, August 6, 2012, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Ohio Union at The Ohio State University. For more, read the full press release here or visit the event website here.


 
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Jul 09, 2012

Legislative task force readies reports on use of anaerobic digesters
 

A legislative task force is preparing two studies on the use of anaerobic digesters in Ohio. Formed upon the passage of Ohio House Bill 276, the task force is required to study five issues: 1) the use of anaerobic digesters and the impact of anaerobic digesters on the state; 2) how the use of anaerobic digesters may impact the environment; 3) how the use of anaerobic digesters is regulated in other states; 4) the use of anaerobic digesters in a cooperative setting; and 5) the overall impact of state laws governing the use of anaerobic digesters on agriculture, residents, and local governments in the state.

Task force members include Sen. Cliff Hite (R-Findlay), Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville), Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Ohio Soybean Association, Ohio Township Association, Quasar Energy Group, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Ohio EPA. The task force is supposed to issue a report no later than August 1, 2012, of its findings and recommendations regarding the use of anaerobic digesters and the impact of that use on the state. Then, no later than October 1, 2012, the Task Force must issue a report of its recommendations regarding revisions of state law governing anaerobic digesters.


 
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Jun 29, 2012

AK Steel, Air Products cancel waste energy recovery project
 

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. and AK Steel Corp. jointly announced that they have terminated work on the development of an energy project proposed for the AK Steel facility in Middletown, Ohio. The project would have used waste gas from AK Steel’s Middletown blast furnace to produce steam and electrical power. The project would have cost about $310 million and had been under development since 2008. The companies said that, despite a contingent $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, current and projected electricity costs do not justify the economics of proceeding with the project. If operational, it was expected to produce one million megawatt-hours of electricity per year.

The AK Steel-Air Products project was designated as a renewable energy resource under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard ("RPS") as part of Ohio Senate Bill 289, sponsored by Senator Bill Coley (R-Middletown), and enacted in April of this year. SB 289 strictly limited its application to qualifying projects in Butler County, where AK Steel's production facility is located. The designation would have allowed the project to generate renewable energy credits to help pay for the project. The size of the project had created some concern in the renewable energy industry that it may overwhelm the in-state REC market.

Ohio Senate Bill 315--a more comprehensive energy bill signed into law last month by Governor John Kasich--again amended the state's RPS to qualify certain waste energy recovery projects as renewable energy resources. A summary of SB 315, including a brief explanation of the section of the Ohio Revised Code that classifies "waste energy recovery systems" as renewable energy systems, is available here. A chart explaining Ohio's RPS is available here.


 
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Jun 28, 2012

Report: Ohioans consider advanced energy crucial to economic survival
 

Eight out of 10 Ohio residents think that the development of advanced energy technologies is “important to the state’s economic future,” according to a survey of 705 adults participants paid for by Advanced Energy Economy and its Ohio chapter, The Plain Dealer reports. For more, including other statistics derived from the study, read the full story here.


 
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Jun 21, 2012

Landfill in Geneva to produce electricity
 

Waste Management announced in a press release yesterday that construction on the Geneva Landfill in Ashtabula County will enable the site to generate 6.4 megawatts of electricity – enough to power over 6,000 homes – from waste energy. Once the plant is operational by the end of this year, methane gas “will be channeled into engines that are used to create electricity,” which will go into the electrical power grid, the release said. For more, read the full press release here.
 
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Jun 15, 2012

Op-ed praises SB 315, acknowledges shortcomings
 

A recent op-ed in the Akron Beacon Journal praises Senate Bill 315 for striking a balance between promoting combined heat and power and waste energy recovery projects and "ensuring room" for wind and solar energy.  The op-ed also addresses the bill's oil and gas drilling provisions, hailing the inclusion of water source disclosure requirements and hefty fines for hydraulic fracturing, but outlining several shortcomings in the bill, including a lack of road maintenance requirements and appeal process as well as doing a poor job "balancing company trade secrets and the public interest." For more, read the full op-ed here.
 
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Jun 15, 2012

Industry executives praise Ohio's advanced energy legislation
 

Sean Casten, chief executive of Recycled Energy Development of Chicago, and Philip Brennan, chief executive of Echogen in Akron, wrote an op-ed for the Akron Beacon Journal recently saying that waste energy recovery provisions in SB 315 will reduce pollutants and carbon emissions, provide clean power and encourage not only growth in Ohio's manufacturing sector, but also substantial investment from out of state. Using U.S. Department of Energy estimates, Casten and Brennan say that combined heat and power and waste heat recovery projects "would supply about 30 percent of the state's existing capacity" of electric power. For more, read the full op-ed here.
 
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May 15, 2012

Landfill in New Springfield to produce electricity
 

The Waste Management Mahoning Landfill in New Springfield announced last week that it will construct a gas-to-electric facility designed to generate 4.8 megawatts of electricity from methane gas, a press release from the company said. Methane gas produced from waste decomposition will be converted to energy and sent to the electrical power grid, the release said.
 
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Apr 22, 2012

PUCO issues Ohio RPS report
 

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Staff last week issued their annual report detailing the utilities' compliance with Ohio's Renewable Portfolio Standard and highlighting policies that may encourage the use of renewable resources. The report--required by statute to be provided to the General Assembly--primarily recounts the compliance shortfalls of 2009 and 2010 caused by the shortage of in-state solar resources. It also includes a federally funded National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) analysis of Ohio's renewable energy market. The PUCO is required to solicit public input prior to submitting the report to the legislature. The Commission is inviting interested parties to file comments by May 21. The PUCO report is available here. The NARUC report is available here.
 
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Apr 17, 2012

Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance seeks financial analyst
 

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is seeking a skilled and motivated financial analyst with two or more years of experience to join the finance department and be responsible for overseeing the evaluation, measurement and verification of energy efficiency projects, as well as the organization's internal reporting, database and data analysis, program evaluation, measurement and verification, and grant reporting, among other duties, according to a job posting from the alliance.
 
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Mar 27, 2012

FirstEnergy to host interconnection workshop
 

FirstEnergy will host an interconnection workshop at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (180 East Broad St., Columbus) this Thursday, March 29, 2012, at 10 a.m. in Room 11-B. The presentation materials for the workshop are available here. More information on FirstEnergy's interconnection requirements is available here.


 
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Mar 26, 2012

U.S. Department of Labor calculates first-ever "green jobs" statistic
 

For the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics has made an official count of so-called green jobs and found that in 2010, at least 3.1 million Americans were associated with the production of green goods and services, a sector that accounted for about 2.4 percent of the nation's total employment that year, The Associated Press reports.  Some of the report's analysis, however, including its determination that "nuclear power plant employees have green jobs," but workers who make bicycles do not, are causing some to criticize the report's accuracy. For more, view the full report here.


 
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Mar 21, 2012

ABJ editorial cautions against categorizing co-gen as renewable energy
 

A new editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal is critical of a plan advanced by Ohio Governor John Kasich and members of the General Assembly to define co-generation technology as renewable energy under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard. The editorial notes:

Consider that lawmakers currently are hustling to approve a co-generation arrangement at a steel plant in southwest Ohio. The plant alone would consume nearly one-half of the renewable energy credits. That leaves little room to encourage and sustain markets for wind, solar and others.

Better to construct a separate portfolio for co-generation, establishing the necessary incentives and benchmarks while advancing the idea of a broad strategy. Ohio has much potential in renewable and other alternative energy sources. At this point, let’s not pit one against another.

The full editorial is available here.


 
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Mar 17, 2012

News roundup: Gov. Kasich's energy policy
 

As noted previously, Ohio Gov. John Kasich revealed details this week of the mid-biennium budget review, which will include legislation that would revise the state's energy policy. News reports--available here, here and here--have focused primarily on the Governor's proposals to update the regulations and taxes on oil and gas companies operating in Ohio.


 
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Mar 14, 2012

Gov. Kasich rolls out new energy policy
 

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and administration officials on Wednesday briefed reporters on the Governor's mid-biennium budget review, which will include legislation that would revise the state's energy policy. A fact sheet on the major components of the energy policy is available here. The administration will provide additional details to the General Assembly starting tomorrow.  


 
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Mar 05, 2012

Gov. Kasich outlines energy policy for Cincinnati business leaders
 

As reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer, Gov. John Kasich outlined the pillars of his forthcoming energy policy for a handful of Cincinnati business leaders last week. The policy calls for the state to develop its shale oil resources, look at new opportunities for coal, and expand the use of alternative fuels. In the article, Wayne Struble, the governor’s policy director, says Kasich wants to expand the definition of renewable and advanced energy under Ohio law to include co-generation and waste energy at industrial facilities. 


 
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Feb 17, 2012

AK Steel-backed waste heat bill moving through Ohio Statehouse
 

State Senator Bill Coley (R-Middletown) introduced Senate Bill 289 to help AK Steel, in his district, take advantage of a proposed co-generation project. Co-sponsored by Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Youngstown), the bill will include co-generation of energy from waste gas in certain industrial processes as part of the renewable portfolio standard defined in SB 221 of the 127th General Assembly. Many members of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee asked the sponsors at a February 8 hearing if other forms of co-generation could be included but Sen. Coley said he did not want to slow down what he hoped would be an otherwise swift passage of the bill by adding more potential technologies.

During the bill's second hearing on February 15, 2012, interested parties testified that the state should build a framework around these types of projects instead of supporting one particular project. At that same hearing, opponents asked the technology be included in the advanced energy standard as opposed to the renewable standard as it could have an adverse effect on renewable energy projects and renewable energy credit (REC) prices in the state. The bill awaits a third hearing, and officials at AK stated that the project has to be operational by September 2015 to take advantage of various financing opportunities.


 
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Feb 07, 2012

Sandusky County latest to declare itself an Alternative Energy Zone
 

Sandusky County commissioners have approved making the county an Alternative Energy Zone, which will enable qualified renewable energy projects in the county to receive special tax treatment. According to an article in The (Toledo) Blade, the zone was approved to assist wind turbine manufacturer Nordex, which has proposed a 70- to 80-turbine wind-energy farm in York Township in Sandusky County and Thompson Township in Seneca County.

Sandusky County joins Clinton, Hardin, Henry, Noble, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Summit and Van Wert counties as the state's first Alternative Energy Zones. The AEZ designation, made possible through last session's Senate Bill 232, speeds the approval process for developers, reducing the uncertainty and cost of seeking county-by-county approval, and locks in revenue at a set rate for the counties where energy projects are located. Last year, Governor John Kasich signed into law with the rest of the state budget a two-year extension of SB 232, which also significantly reduced the tax burden on qualified energy projects. Without the extension, SB 232 was scheduled to sunset at the end of the year.


 
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Feb 05, 2012

Arizona project pairs solar with fossil fuels
 

As reported by Forbes.com, Tucson Electric Power said that it plans to add solar power to a coal- and natural-gas-fired plant in Tucson, Ariz. The Sundt Solar Boost Project, slated to begin operating early next year, will use solar steam generators to produce as much as 5 megawatts of power during times of peak demand. The project is the latest of several to combine solar power with fossil fuels in an attempt to increase generating efficiency, according to the article.


 
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Jan 19, 2012

Ohio energy summit videos available online
 

The Battelle Memorial Institute, a Columbus-based nonprofit research institution, has made available streaming video from The Ohio Governor's 21st Century Energy & Economy Summit, which took place from September 21-22, 2011, at The Ohio State University. Topics included coal; wind, solar and efficiency; environment, technology and community impacts; alternative transportation fuels; etc. Speakers included Gov. John Kasich, energy industry executives and energy policy specialists.


 
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Jan 08, 2012

Renewable energy overtakes nuclear power in U.S. market
 

As noted by The Washington Post's Wonkblog, renewable energy overtook nuclear power as an energy source in the United States for the first time in decades in 2011. The most recent figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that renewable energy provided 11.95 percent of domestic U.S. energy production through the first nine months of 2011, compared with just 10.62 percent from nuclear. But the story explains that "[t]he two things that most people associate with the term 'clean energy' — namely, wind and solar — are nowhere close to overtaking nuclear power," with the "vast bulk of 'renewable' power in the United States still com[ing] from large-scale hydropower (4.35 percent), biomass (3.15 percent) and biofuels (2.57 percent)." The story continues:

Going forward, however, that could well shift. The nuclear industry is more focused on replacing soon-to-retire plants than expanding outright. There aren’t likely to be too many more large-scale hydropower plants in the United States — the prime hydro sites have all been taken. And as for biomass and biofuel, critics have raised serious questions about whether either of these sources are as sustainable as alleged. On the other hand, solar and wind were by far the fastest-growing energy sources last year — solar electricity grew 46.5 percent and wind by 27.1 percent (though it’s unclear whether either source can maintain that hectic pace now that Congress has allowed a few key subsidies to expire.)

The article notes that the other "big story" in the EIA figures is natural gas's fast rise as an energy source and coal's decline. 


 
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Dec 29, 2011

PUCO considering plan to spread economic development costs statewide
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio ("PUCO") is developing a plan to spread the cost of economic development incentives around to electricity ratepayers statewide, according to a recent Gongwer News Service article (subscription required). The proposal, which would offset the cost of reduced rates for companies that expand their job base, is being developed by PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler and is aimed at helping Ohio compete with states that can offer energy-intensive customers very low electricity rates.

Chairman Snitchler told Gongwer that the proposal would expand the current “reasonable arrangement program,” which allows businesses to negotiate for reduced rates with utilities. Under that program, other customers within an electric company’s service territory typically pay an additional fee to offset the “delta revenue” resulting from the reduced rates for businesses that have special arrangements. The PUCO is considering whether to solicit additional public comments or to move forward with proposed rules, with a decision expected in the first quarter of 2012, according to the article.


 
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Dec 20, 2011

Tax reform advocacy group slams renewable energy mandates
 

Two representatives from Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative advocacy group, wrote an op/ed piece for Politico.com wherein they argue that states with renewable energy standards cause residents to pay more for power and sizeably reduce real disposable income. The two also argue that states with high unemployment like Ohio lose jobs because of renewable energy mandates. For more read the full op/ed piece here.


 
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Dec 18, 2011

State government group to host green energy event in Columbus
 

According to the TechColumbus web site, the Advanced Energy Hub, a division of the Ohio Department of Development, will host a free event highlighting "various clean, green and industry clustering activities in the central Ohio region" on Thursday, January 12, 2012, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at TechColumbus on Kinnear Road in Columbus. Registration is currently open for the morning session, keynote luncheon, and the afternoon session and mixer. For more details check out the TechColumbus event page here.


 
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Dec 16, 2011

Energy Alliance seeks a commercial energy finance manager
 

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is looking to hire a Commercial Energy Finance Manager to "help develop and manage energy efficiency lending products" for the Energy Alliance and its partners in the Greater Cincinnati community.  


 
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Nov 30, 2011

Three more Ohio counties designate themselves Alternative Energy Zones
 

Three more Ohio counties have declared themselves “Alternative Energy Zones” under a state law enacted last year that reshaped the tax regime for renewable and advanced energy projects. Henry, Seneca and Summit counties have joined Clinton, Hardin, Noble, Paulding, Putnam and Van Wert counties as the state's first Alternative Energy Zones. 

The AEZ designation, made possible through last session's Senate Bill 232, speeds the approval process for developers, reducing the uncertainty and cost of seeking county-by-county approval, and locks in revenue at a set rate for the counties where energy projects are located. Earlier this year, Governor John Kasich signed into law with the rest of the state budget a two-year extension of SB 232, which also significantly reduced the tax burden on qualified energy projects. Without the extension, SB 232 was scheduled to sunset at the end of the year.


 
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Nov 28, 2011

Ohio company featured for veterans employment program
 

The Associated Press (via The Columbus Dispatch) featured Dublin, Ohio-based Tipping Point Renewable Energy in an article about employment prospects for military veterans in the green energy field. Through its Solar By Soldiers program, Tipping Point is hiring veterans for its solar installation crews.


 
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Nov 23, 2011

PUCO approves agreement in Duke electric security plan case
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has approved an agreement that will set electric generation rates for Duke Energy Ohio customers from Jan. 1, 2012 through May 31, 2015. Under the new electric security plan (ESP), Duke will transfer its generation assets to an affiliate and hold auctions to determine generation rates. PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler hailed the agreement as “another step in the process of encouraging a robust and vibrant competitive market for electric consumers.” The agreement approved by the Commission--available here--was supported by 30 parties, including Duke, PUCO staff, the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, Ohio Energy Group, the Ohio Manufacturer's Association, the City of Cincinnati, and Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy.

Under the terms of the agreement, Duke pledged to "engage in collaborative discussions" to improve its residential solar renewable energy credit (SREC) program. Duke also promised to initiate similar collaborations examining energy efficiency and combined heat and power projects, and the potential deployment of an "electric vehicle ecosystem" in its service territory.


 
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Nov 21, 2011

FirstEnergy nuclear plant to remain closed until end of safety probe
 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it will not allow FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse nuclear plant on Lake Erie to reopen until it resolves any safety concerns about cracks discovered in concrete at the facility. FirstEnergy shut down the plant in October to install a new reactor head and found cracks in the shield building. News of the discovery and subsequent developments is available here, here and here.


 
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Nov 21, 2011

Study details potential economic benefits of new federal air-pollution rules
 

A new study examines the potential positive economic impacts resulting from companies’ investments in emission control technology in response to new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency air-pollution rules. The report, “New Jobs – Cleaner Air Part II: An investment in American Businesses and American Jobs,” released by Ceres in collaboration with the Institute of Clean Air Companies (ICAC), highlights specific case studies of companies involved in building a fleet of modern power plants.


 
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Nov 21, 2011

Bill clarifies zoning and tax laws for land used to grow crops for energy production
 

The Ohio House of Representatives Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee accepted a substitute version of House Bill 276, which clarifies state zoning and tax laws for land used to grow crops for energy production. As introduced earlier this year, HB 276 revises the definition of "agriculture" for purposes of the statutes governing county zoning and township zoning to include biodiesel production, biomass energy production, electric or heat energy production, and biologically derived methane gas production, and defines "biodiesel," "biomass energy," "electric or heat energy," and "biologically derived methane gas."

HB 276 also revises the definition of "land devoted exclusively to agricultural use" for purposes of the statutes that govern current agricultural use valuation of real property for real property tax assessment to include land devoted exclusively to biodiesel production, biomass energy production, electric or heat energy production, or biologically derived methane gas production. Among other things, the substitute version of the bill adds a provision that the Ohio Department of Agriculture may permit a digester placed at a concentrated animal feeding facility, and adds provisions regarding agricultural production of algae.


 
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Nov 07, 2011

Columbia Gas of Ohio agrees to extend energy efficiency programs through 2016
 

After striking a deal on Monday with the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC), Columbia Gas of Ohio will "spend approximately $20 million per year for new and existing energy efficiency programs for residential and business customers between 2012 and 2016," the OCC said in a news release.
 
Columbia Gas has offered low-cost home energy audits as well as rebates for "installing cost-effective home energy improvements" since 2009. Under the new agreement, four new residential programs will be offered: an online energy audit, high efficiency heating system rebates, home energy reports, and energy efficiency education for students. 
 


 
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Nov 06, 2011

Testimony now available from Ohio Senate Bill 221 legislative oversight hearing
 

Testimony from last week's joint hearing of the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee and Senate Energy & Public Utilities Committee regarding Ohio's renewable energy mandates is now available. As previously noted here, renewable energy industry officials urged lawmakers to maintain the mandates as they consider rewriting Ohio’s electricity law.

As established by Ohio Senate Bill 221 in 2008, Ohio's renewable portfolio standard ("RPS") requires the state's utilities to procure 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. Defending the RPS were Eric Thumma, president of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition and director of institutional relations at Iberdrola Renewables Inc., Edward Weston, director of Global Wind Network, and Colin Murchie, director of government affairs for SolarCity Corporation, on behalf of the Solar Alliance. 

Also providing testimony was Andrew Ott, Senior Vice President for Markets for PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization that manages the electric grid in twelve states, including Ohio, and the District of Columbia. Ott testified about the impact of renewable energy on the electric grid.


 
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Nov 03, 2011

Industry officials urge lawmakers to maintain Ohio's renewable energy mandates
 

Renewable energy industry officials urged lawmakers on Wednesday to maintain Ohio's renewable energy mandates as they consider rewriting Ohio’s electricity law, according to a Gongwer News Service Ohio article (subscription required). As reported by Gongwer:

During a joint hearing of the House Public Utilities Committee and Senate Energy & Utilities Committee, witnesses portrayed a maturing wind and solar industry that would suffer considerable setbacks and job loss if policymakers back off the requirements [as established by Ohio Senate Bill 221 in 2008] for at least 12.5% of the electricity sold in Ohio to come from renewable sources by 2025. 

Appearing on behalf of the renewable energy industry were Eric Thumma, president of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition and director of institutional relations at Iberdrola Renewables Inc., Edward Weston, director of Global Wind Network, and Colin Murchie, director of government affairs for SolarCity Corporation.


 
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Oct 30, 2011

Cleveland-based environmental magazine launches news website
 

EcoWatch, a Cleveland-based environment news magazine, has launched a news website in partnership with Waterkeeper Alliance, the environmental advocacy group founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., according to an article in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. The new website, ecowatch.org, is designed to expand EcoWatch's news reach and will pull environmental news from more than 700 organizations around the country.


 
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Oct 28, 2011

Renewable energy industry representatives to present testimony to joint committee meeting of Ohio House, Senate
 

The Ohio House and Senate Public Utilities Committees will hold a joint meeting on Wednesday, November 2 to hear testimony from renewable energy industry representatives. The meeting is a continuation of the House Public Utilities Committee’s oversight hearings on the state's electric utilities. Legislators will also hear testimony from a representative of PJM, a Regional Transmission Organization.


 
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Oct 21, 2011

Energy summit videos now available
 

Battelle Memorial Institute, which helped produce Gov. John Kasich's energy summit at Ohio State University in September, has posted videos of the summit's major speeches and panel discussions. 


 
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Oct 19, 2011

FirstEnergy affirms commitment to meeting Ohio RPS requirements
 

In an announcement on the web site dedicated to its request for proposal for 10-year renewable energy credit ("REC") and solar renewable energy credit ("SREC") contracts, FirstEnergy affirmed its commitment to meeting its obligations under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard ("RPS") following a recent news report indicating FirstEnergy may have triggered the RPS cost cap. The announcement is available here (pdf).

As noted here, under Ohio's RPS, a utility does not have to comply with a particular renewable energy benchmark to the extent its generation costs while satisfying the RPS exceed its generation costs absent the RPS requirements by at least 3 percent. The PUCO has opened a new docket - Case No. 11-5201-EL-RDR - to consider FirstEnergy Corp.’s cost-cap compliance.


 
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Oct 16, 2011

PUCO to examine FirstEnergy's compliance with RPS cost cap
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has opened a new docket - Case No. 11-5201-EL-RDR - to consider FirstEnergy Corp.’s compliance with the cost cap provisions under Ohio’s renewable portfolio standard. According to a recent Gongwer News Service Ohio report (subscription only), an initial investigation by PUCO Staff revealed that FirstEnergy triggered the cost cap because its generation costs while satisfying the RPS exceeded its generation costs absent the RPS requirements by at least 3 percent.

Under Ohio's RPS, a utility does not have to comply with a particular renewable energy benchmark to the extent the costs of compliance exceed the cost cap. While the PUCO has not provided its analysis, its conclusion matches that of FirstEnergy industrial customer Nucor Steel Marion, Inc., which has repeatedly argued in PUCO filings - see here and here - that FirstEnergy has triggered the RPS cost cap.


 
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Oct 07, 2011

Plain Dealer columnist advocates for repeal of Ohio RPS
 

Kevin O'Brien, a columnist for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, wrote a column this week siding with the efforts of several state legislators to repeal Ohio's renewable portfolio standard ("RPS"), which requires the state's utilities to procure 25 percent of their energy from renewable and advanced energy sources by 2025. The full column is available here.


 
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Oct 05, 2011

Akron City Council to consider funding a portion of the renovations of an old steel headquarters for a new energy company
 

Ohio.com reports that the Akron City Council will vote Monday on legislation that would help fund the renovation of a deteriorating former steel headquarters for a burgeoning energy company. The former Hamlin Steel building would be leased to Echogen, a company that "converts 'waste' heat into electricity and is expanding for the second time in four years," the article said.


 
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Oct 05, 2011

Two Ohio-based advanced energy research projects receive federal funding
 

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $156 million to its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program to support 60 projects across the country, including two in Ohio, North American Windpower reports.

  • Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland will receive $1 million to maximize the magnetic properties of iron-nitride using micro-alloying in an effort to create a magnet with the highest energy density that is "made entirely from earth abundant raw materials," according to the ARPA-E Project Selections list. The end goal of the project will be to utilize this new magnet system as part of a prototype electric motor - one that does not require rare earth magnets.
  • Baldor Electric Company of Richmond Heights, in partnership with Arnold Magnetic Technologies Corp and ABB, will receive $2,942,867 to develop motor designs, cooling systems, and new manufacturing techniques to create a more powerful electric motor that does not require expensive rare earth materials.

 
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Oct 04, 2011

Green Energy Ohio tour showcases clean energy sites around state
 

The ninth-annual Green Energy Ohio Tour of clean energy sites, which took place on October 1 and 2, helped raise the profile of individual projects around the state. The Columbus Dispatch, Hamilton Journal News and The Marietta Times all featured articles about local sites.


 
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Oct 04, 2011

New Summit County digester will turn sludge into vehicle fuel
 

A facility to turn sewage sludge into fuel for vehicles is planned in southern Summit County, Ohio, according to an article in the Akron Beacon Journal. Construction of the $4.5 million anaerobic digester is to begin this month, and it should be fully operational by January. It will be built and operated by Lime Lakes Energy LLC, a subsidiary of the Cleveland-based Quasar Energy Group, in cooperation with PPG Industries, according to the article. 


 
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Sep 29, 2011

Report examines advanced energy's progress in Southwest Ohio
 

The Hamilton Journal News is publishing a five-part series of articles examining ideas that have the potential to transform Southwest Ohio. The second part of the series, available here, takes a look at how advanced energy is reshaping the region.


 
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Sep 26, 2011

OSU team competes in national sustainable housing competition
 

A team from Ohio State University is among twenty from around the world participating in the U.S. Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratories' Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C. The teams have developed energy-efficient housing prototypes that are being judged for design, performance, market viability and other factors. The OSU team page is available here.


 
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Sep 26, 2011

Concerns raised over bill to repeal Ohio's RPS
 

Renewable energy supporters are voicing concerns over the bill recently introduced in the Ohio Senate that would repeal Ohio's renewable portfolio standard ("RPS"), which requires the state's utilities to procure 25 percent of their energy from renewable and advanced energy sources by 2025. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a recent speech that the bill, sponsored by Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Powell), threatens Ohio's chances to rejuvenate its manufacturing base and become a leader in the clean-energy economy, according to an article in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. Another article in North American Windpower examines the potential fallout from the bill.


 
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Sep 22, 2011

Energy summit underway, Kasich promises comprehensive review of state policy
 

Speaking at this week's energy summit at Ohio State University, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is promising a comprehensive review of state energy policy. The summit, which concludes today, has brought together utilities, environmentalists, and officials from the oil and gas, coal, and advanced energy industries.

While Kasich voiced support of renewable energy, he left the door open to potential changes to the state's renewable portfolio standard, which requires utilities to provide 25 percent of their energy generation from renewable and advanced energy sources by 2025. News reports indicate that Kasich's review of energy policy is likely to take several months, with specific policy proposals emerging early next year. Coverage of the summit is available here, here, here and here.


 
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Sep 21, 2011

Webcast available for Gov. Kasich's energy summit
 

A live webcast will be available for all keynote presentations and primary panels at Gov. Kasich's energy summit set for the next two days at Ohio State University. Additionally, all of the summit's speeches and panels will be available for on-demand viewing after the summit. Live streaming begins at 8:30 a.m. on Wed., Sept. 21.


 
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Sep 21, 2011

Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Janine L. Migden-Ostrander resigns
 

The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) Governing Board has just accepted the resignation of Janine Migden Ostrander as Ohio's Consumers' Counsel. In addition, the OCC announced that Chairman Jerome Solove and Dorothy Leslie have not been reappointed to the Governing Board. Current Vice Chairman John Moliterno has been selected Chair of the Governing Board. The OCC is the residential utility consumer advocate. 


 
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Sep 21, 2011

Report: Kasich voices support of renewable energy at summit, mentions possible changes to RPS
 

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Gov. John Kasich voiced support of renewable energy in his opening remarks to the energy summit he convened at Ohio State University this week. But Kasich left the door open to potential changes to the state's renewable portfolio standard, which requires utilities to provide 25 percent of their energy generation from renewable and advanced energy sources by 2025. According to the article:

Kasich administration officials told The Dispatch that the governor supports renewable energy standards, but that he may also move to tweak them. Kasich seemed to back that up in his speech when he wondered aloud “if we can modify what we have on renewables without people having a cow.”

The full article is available here.


 
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Sep 19, 2011

Final agenda set for Governor's energy summit
 

Organizers of Governor Kasich's energy summit scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday this week in Columbus have released the final agenda for the event.  Keying off the summit, The (Toledo) Blade editorial staff published an editorial in the paper's Sunday edition urging Governor Kasich to support Ohio's growing advanced energy industries and strengthen regulations on the extraction of oil and natural gas from shale deposits.


 
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Sep 18, 2011

Ohioans support stronger energy-efficiency standards, new poll finds
 

In anticipation of Governor Kasich's energy summit this week, a new poll finds that Ohio residents strongly support energy-efficient products, tougher energy-efficiency standards, and Ohio's requirement that utilities help customers use energy-efficient technologies to reduce their power consumption. News of the poll, commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, is available here and here.


 
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Sep 16, 2011

New advanced energy advocacy group officially launches
 

As previously noted here, a new advanced energy advocacy group launched this week at the first-annual Advanced Energy B2B Conference and Expo in Akron. Comprising eight economic development agencies from across Ohio, the group--calling itself Advanced Energy Economy Ohio (AEE Ohio)--will work to expand Ohio's advanced energy industry. News of AEE Ohio's launch is available here, here and here.


 
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Sep 15, 2011

Editorial: Repealing Ohio's RPS would be a mistake
 

The Akron Beacon Journal published a staff editorial defending Ohio's renewable portfolio standard ("RPS") against the repeal efforts of Ohio Senator Kris Jordan (R-Powell). The editorial notes the broad bipartisan support of the RPS, which requires the state's utilities to procure 25 percent of their power from renewable and advanced energy sources by 2025, when it was enacted in 2008. It continues:

The sound thinking is that governments can play a useful role in encouraging the development of a market. Industry analysts stressed the value of establishing such standards to attract investment, energy companies, large and small, benefiting from the commitment and the stability.

Now comes state Sen. Kris Jordan with proposed legislation to eliminate the standards. The Powell Republican argues that in a struggling economy, Ohio shouldn’t be flirting with higher energy prices. He sees “this mandate” placing “a greater burden on the people of this great state.” He wants to “leave free market decisions to the free market.”

Put aside that the relative low energy prices of today suggest this is a good time for power companies to enter long-term contracts for alternative energy sources. The country has little choice but to develop a more diverse energy portfolio, from burning coal cleanly to tapping the sun and the wind. The imperative is both economic and environmental, an opportunity for entrepreneurs, innovation and job creation and to perform as enlightened stewards of the planet.

The editorial concludes that now is not "the time to invite uncertainty about the state’s commitment" to an active and growing sector of Ohio's economy.


 
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Sep 15, 2011

Ohio Supreme Court defines Lake Erie shoreline
 

Settling a long-running property dispute between the State of Ohio and owners of property along the Lake Erie shore, the Supreme Court of Ohio unanimously held that the portion of the lake owned by the state extends to the "natural shoreline," defined as the point "at which water usually stands when free from disturbing causes." The state had argued that the state-owned territory extended inland to a "high-water mark" established in 1985 by the Army Corps of Engineers. News of the decision is available here.


 
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Sep 14, 2011

FirstEnergy announces RFP for 10-year REC contracts
 

FirstEnergy Corp. announced that it will conduct a request for proposal ("RFP") to secure 10-year contracts for renewable energy credits ("RECs") and solar renewable energy credits ("SRECs") to help meet the renewable energy benchmarks established under Ohio's energy law.

The RFP seeks delivery of 5,000 SRECs and 20,000 RECs produced by generating facilities in Ohio for each calendar year beginning in 2011 and continuing through 2020. No energy or capacity will be purchased under the RFP. FirstEnergy established a website, available here, to provide bidders with a central source of documents, data and other information for the RFP process. To participate in the RFP, bidders are encouraged to submit credit information by October 11, 2011, with full proposal information due by 3 p.m. on October 18, 2011.


 
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Sep 14, 2011

Report: Groups join forces to promote advanced energy in Ohio
 

A new article on the Crain's Cleveland Business website reports that eight economic development agencies from across Ohio are joining forces in an effort to expand the state’s advanced energy industry. The group will be composed of NorTech, the Ohio Business Council, EWI (formerly the Edison Welding Institute), CincyTech, the Dayton Development Coalition, Rocket Ventures of Toledo, TechColumbus and TechGrowth Ohio of Athens. The group will announce its name this week at NorTech’s Advanced Energy B2B Conference and Expo in Akron, according to the article.


 
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Sep 12, 2011

Green Energy Ohio promotes tour of Ohio clean energy sites
 

Green Energy Ohio is promoting its ninth annual tour of clean energy sites around the state. Organized in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Development, the tour will take place on October 1 and 2, and will include open houses and guided tours of sites featuring solar, wind, biomass, energy efficiency and other clean energy technologies. More information is available here.


 
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Sep 08, 2011

Melink Corp. to host open house celebrating "net-zero energy" achievement
 

The Melink Corporation is holding an open house on Wednesday, September 28 to celebrate achieving "net-zero energy" for the company's corporate campus in Milford, Ohio. The company achieved zero energy consumption for the year through conservation and efficiency efforts as well as the addition of on-site, renewable energy generation. Attendees are invited to tour the building to see how Melink both saves energy and creates it. Click here for registration and travel information.


 
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Sep 07, 2011

Event showcases all-electric cars
 

Clean Fuels Ohio recently hosted an event in Columbus to promote clean fuels and showcase all-electric vehicles including the new Coda. Built by an automaker in California, the Coda’s battery may be manufactured in Columbus if the company secures a $500 million-plus federal loan to build the plant here. Clean Fuels Ohio is a nonprofit group based at The Ohio State University. View this link to learn more. The Columbus Dispatch covered the event in an article here, and posted a YouTube video here.


 
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Aug 24, 2011

Agenda unveiled for Ohio energy summit
 

Battelle Memorial Institute has released the agenda and invited speakers for Governor Kasich's upcoming Ohio energy summit. The summit is slated for September 21 and 22 at the Ohio Union at Ohio State University. The Governor's office is billing the summit as an opportunity to lay the foundation for a new energy and economic development policy for the state.


 
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Aug 19, 2011

Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services reports examine state's green job prospects, training programs
 

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has released a four-part series of reports examining the state's green jobs potential, labor force needs, and current educational and training programs serving the green economy. The reports are available here.


 
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Aug 17, 2011

Expo to highlight business-to-business opportunities in advanced energy in Northeast Ohio
 

NorTech and the Summit County Mayors Association are organizing the Advanced Energy B2B Conference & Expo in Akron on September 14 – 15. The conference will examine the economic impact of advanced energy in Northeast Ohio and highlight business opportunities in the region. According to an article in the Akron Beacon Journal, “[c]onference organizers will work to arrange business-to-business meetings with conference participants that could lead to joint projects.”


 
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Jul 19, 2011

State releases $1.2 million for Brownfield cleanup
 

The State of Ohio approved more than one million dollars last week as part of The Clean Ohio Assistance Fund.  According to this article on the MRFTech Web site, the fund "supports Brownfield redevelopment in Ohio’s urban areas."  Areas receiving money include Brown County, City of Geneva, City of Louisville, Columbiana County Port Authority and the Coshocton Port Authority.
 
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Jul 14, 2011

AEP shelves ambitious carbon-capture plan
 

According to the New York Times, American Electric Power is shelving the nation’s most prominent effort to capture carbon dioxide from an existing coal-burning power plant. As the article details, AEP has decided to table plans to build a full-scale carbon-capture plant at Mountaineer, a 31-year-old coal-fired plant in West Virginia, where the company has successfully captured and buried carbon dioxide in a small pilot program for two years. Carbon-capture technology, according to the article

. . . had been heralded as the quickest solution to help the coal industry weather tougher federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions. But Congressional inaction on climate change diminished the incentives that had spurred A.E.P. to take the leap.

Company officials, who plan an announcement on Thursday, said they were dropping the larger, $668 million project because they did not believe state regulators would let the company recover its costs by charging customers, thus leaving it no compelling regulatory or business reason to continue the program.

The federal Department of Energy had pledged to cover half the cost, but A.E.P. said it was unwilling to spend the remainder in a political climate that had changed strikingly since it began the project.

“We are placing the project on hold until economic and policy conditions create a viable path forward,” said Michael G. Morris, chairman of American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, one of the largest operators of coal-fired generating plants in the United States. He said his company and other coal-burning utilities were caught in a quandary: they need to develop carbon-capture technology to meet any future greenhouse-gas emissions rules, but they cannot afford the projects without federal standards that will require them to act and will persuade the states to allow reimbursement.

An earlier article on the Mountaineer project is available here


 
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Jul 13, 2011

Brookings Institution report ranks Ohio sixth in nation for clean jobs
 

A comprehensive new study of America's "clean" economy by The Brookings Institution ranks Ohio sixth in the nation for its number of clean jobs. According to the think tank's analysis, Ohio has 105,306 clean jobs, accounting for roughly 2 percent of all jobs in the state. The report was assembled by Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program and Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice. The analysis of Ohio's clean economy is available here (pdf required). The report also contains analyses of the Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown metropolitan areas (pdf required).


 
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Jun 29, 2011

Google report says delaying clean energy will cost U.S. economy trillions
 

A new report released by Google says that the U.S. economy could lose trillions of dollars without a private and public focus on innovation in renewables, storage, and electric vehicles, according to an article at environmental news and commentary website Grist. Google's analysis modeled a variety of long-term scenarios and their influence on gross domestic product growth, energy costs, and greenhouse gases. The full report is available here.


 
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Jun 17, 2011

Battelle, UMass Boston to host global climate change conference
 

Columbus-based Battelle Memorial Institute and the Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS) at University of Massachusetts Boston announced that they have teamed to host the first-ever Global Conference on Oceans, Climate and Security in May 2012. The three-day conference in Boston, expected to be a bi-annual event for CIOCS, will address the impact of climate change on ocean systems and the consequent impact on human and national security. More information is available here


 
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Jun 17, 2011

FirstEnergy breaks ground on new emergency operations center at nuclear plant
 

FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company, a subsidiary of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., broke ground this week for a new emergency operations center at its Perry Nuclear Plant in Painesville, Ohio. The 12,000-square-foot facility will house activities related to maintaining public health and safety in the event of an emergency at the plant. Construction of the building is expected to be completed in January 2012. 


 
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Jun 13, 2011

AEP says proposed emissions rules would force plant closures, job cuts
 

Columbus-based American Electric Power Co. is warning that it would have to shut down five plants, reduce operations at six others and cut 600 jobs to comply with new rules for coal-fired power plants proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to an Associated Press article in Bloomberg Businessweek. U.S. EPA, meanwhile, is likely to delay proposing the draft greenhouse-gas emissions limits at issue. The EPA faced a July 26 deadline to propose carbon-emissions standards for electric utilities under an agreement with three environmental groups, 11 states, the District of Columbia and New York City. Federal regulators are now seeking a two-month extension from parties to the settlement to evaluate information from companies affected by the rule, according to a separate Bloomberg article


 
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Jun 13, 2011

Wind, energy storage groups release joint principles for clean energy
 

Courtesy of North American Windpower, the Electricity Storage Association and the American Wind Energy Association have released joint principles crafted by the two associations to create a level playing field for the deployment of clean energy technologies. The principles recognize the value of energy storage across the utility industry, the benefit of storage as a source of ancillary services and the need to strategically utilize storage on wind farms.


 
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Jun 09, 2011

Ohio Senate approves 3-year SB 232 extension in budget bill
 

The Ohio Senate on Wednesday approved a 3-year extension of last session’s “Senate Bill 232,” which significantly reduced the tax burden on certain advanced energy projects, in the latest version of the state budget bill. SB 232, originally sponsored by Senator Chris Widener (R-Springfield) and enacted in June 2010, exempts qualifying projects from real and personal property taxation, instead requiring project owners to make payments in lieu of taxes based on generating capacity and other factors. A summary of SB 232 is available here.

Without the extension, SB 232 is scheduled to sunset at the end of the year, potentially threatening the momentum of Ohio’s growing advanced energy market and derailing over a dozen wind, solar and other projects in development—and the jobs and investment these projects will bring. Two utility-scale wind farms are already under construction in Van Wert and Paulding counties, employing hundreds of Ohioans, and this extension is viewed as critical to future projects.

Under the bill, a project must be under construction (or filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board) by January 1, 2015, and placed in service by January 1, 2016 to qualify for the tax treatment. Without the extension, a project must be under construction by January 1, 2012, and placed in service by January 1, 2013 to qualify. The extension was included in the budget bill with the support of Senators Cliff Hite (R-Findlay), Mark Wagoner (R-Toledo) and Jimmy Stewart (R-Albany), along with Senator Widener and others.

The bill now moves to a joint conference committee where the House and Senate will try to reconcile their two versions before the June 30 expiration of the current budget. From there the bill goes to Governor Kasich.


 
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Jun 09, 2011

News analysis: U.S. falling behind in the green economy
 

A new article in The New York Times suggests the United States is falling behind other major industrialized nations in the growing green energy economy. According to the article:

Many European countries — along with China, Japan and South Korea — have pushed commercial development of carbon-reducing technologies with a robust policy mix of direct government investment, tax breaks, loans, regulation and laws that cap or tax emissions. Incentives have fostered rapid entrepreneurial growth in new industries like solar and wind power, as well as in traditional fields like home building and food processing, with a focus on energy efficiency.

But with Congress deeply divided over whether climate change is real or if the country should use less fossil fuel, efforts in the United States have paled in comparison. That slow start is ceding job growth and profits to companies overseas that now profitably export their goods and expertise to the United States.

The full article is available here. A Pew Charitable Trusts study that served as part of the basis of the Times article is available here


 
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Jun 01, 2011

Youngstown State, Polyflow team on waste "bane-to-boon" project
 

Youngstown State University and Akron-based Polyflow LLC are collaborating on a research project that will study the conversion of plastic and rubber waste to commercially viable products, such as gasoline and diesel fuel and new plastics, according to an article in The (Youngstown) Vindicator. The waste project is being funded by a $1.6 million grant from Ohio’s Third Frontier program, about $600,000 of which will come to YSU to develop a laboratory in which to refine the Polyflow process to help make it commercially feasible. According to the article, the remainder of the grant will go to Polyflow, a startup company, for construction of a full-scale, 2.5-ton-per-hour demonstration processor that converts plastic and polymer waste, such as bread wrappers, soft-drink containers and tires, into saleable raw materials. 


 
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May 24, 2011

Timken, Stark State collaborate on new wind energy R&D center
 

Canton-based Timken Co. and Stark State College are collaborating on a new, $11.8 million wind energy research and development center, according to news reports. The project, which received incentives from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission and Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, will be located on 15 acres adjacent to the Akron-Canton Airport. Additional news coverage of the project is available here and here.


 
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May 20, 2011

Report: Ohio ranks 30th in nation in clean-energy leadership
 

Ohio ranks 30th in the nation in clean-energy leadership, according to a new study released by research and advisory firm Clean Edge, Inc. The U.S. Clean Energy Leadership Index tracks a number of factors at the state level, including total electricity produced by clean-energy sources, hybrid and electric vehicles on the road, clean-energy venture and patent activity, and policy regulations and incentives. The top ten states in the index are California, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, Colorado, Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Vermont.


 
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May 12, 2011

Sens. Portman and Shaheen to introduce energy savings bill
 

The Alliance to Save Energy reports that U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will today announce a bill designed to increase the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.  The legislation, known as the "Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness (ESIC) Act of 2011," is a bipartisan bill that promotes the adoption of off-the-shelf energy efficiency technologies that could save businesses and consumers money, make America more energy independent and reduce emissions.

The Ohio  Business Council for a Clean Economy, along with other clean-energy groups, has lent their support to the bill.

The ESIC Act is intended help speed the transition to a more energy efficient economy, increase U.S. economic competitiveness and energy security for the coming decades, and stimulate the economy by encouraging private sector job creation, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.


 
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May 11, 2011

Kasich to host energy summit in September
 

Ohio Governor John Kasich will host a two-day energy summit with Battelle--a leading energy research center in Columbus, Ohio--at The Ohio State University on September 21 and 22, 2011. Called the Ohio Governor's 21st Century Energy & Economic Development Summit, it will feature industry leaders from energy, business, education, government and economic development.

"Right now, Ohio essentially has no energy policy, but at the same time energy costs are major factors in the success of every sector of our economy, especially manufacturing and agriculture," said Kasich, as reported in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.


 
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May 03, 2011

Former Mich. governor praises Ohio energy policy, pushes national clean energy agenda
 

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm stopped in Ohio last week as part of an eight-stop national clean energy advocacy tour, praising the state's energy policy and promoting a federal clean energy agenda. In a speech in Columbus at the annual conference of the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio, Granholm, who is now a senior policy adviser to the Pew Clean Energy Program, said the 2008 Ohio law establishing the state's renewable and advanced energy mandates has spurred investment and set the stage for additional growth. News coverage of Granholm's speech is available here


 
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Apr 21, 2011

Competing reports differ over effects of clean energy policy on Ohio's economy
 

Two reports released this month by Washington, D.C.-based public policy groups offer dramatically different views about the effects of clean energy policy on Ohio's economy. One, released by American Tradition Institute and titled "The Cost and Economic Impact of Ohio's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard," warns that Ohioans will ultimately pay more for electricity and the state will lose jobs as a result of Ohio Senate Bill 221, enacted in 2008, which established renewable energy mandates for electric utilities.

The other report, released by American Security Project and titled "Pay Now, Pay Later: A State-by-State Assessment of the Costs of Climate Change" (pdf required), warns that failure to aggressively combat climate change will damage Ohio's established industries, such as agriculture, manufacturing and shipping, and squelch growth of the state's clean energy economy, which has been expanding at a faster clip than other sectors.


 
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Apr 21, 2011

Report: clean energy investment slows amid policy uncertainty
 

New financial investment in clean energy suffered its weakest quarter in the first three months of this year since the worst of the financial crisis two years ago, according to a North American Windpower article. Citing figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the article reports that new financial investment worldwide in the first quarter of 2011 totaled $31.1 billion, down by a third from the record $47.1 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of last year. The first-quarter 2011 results were also down 10 percent from the first quarter of 2010.

According to the report, weaker investment was the result, in large part, of policy uncertainties in Europe, including in Italy, Spain, France and the U.K. Low natural-gas prices in the U.S. also played a role. Investors may also have had a "pause for breath" after their rush to close deals in the closing months of 2010, according to the report. 


 
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Apr 20, 2011

Fuel cell group disappointed by direction of federal policy
 

A national fuel cell group says that the Obama administration is turning its back on the U.S. fuel cell industry, according to an article in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. In remarks before the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition, Ruth Cox, executive director of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association, noted that the U.S. Department of Energy has repeatedly cut fuel cell research and commercialization funding. The administration has instead favored the development of hybrid and battery-powered electric cars. Cox warned that the cuts could slow commercialization of fuel cells and ultimately harm the growing list of Ohio companies that are part of the fuel cell supply chain, according to the article.


 
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Apr 20, 2011

AES acquires Dayton Power & Light
 

AES has announced its acquisition of DPL, Inc., the parent company of Dayton Power & Light, which serves nearly 500,000 customers in western Ohio. According to this article in the Dayton Business Journal, the transaction is valued at $4.7 billion on an enterprise value basis, with AES paying $3.5 billion in cash for the equity and assuming $1.2 billion in net debt. It is expected to take 6-9 months to wrap up the deal. AES is a global energy company based in Arlington, Virginia, and the owner of 14 distribution companies, including Indianapolis Power & Light.


 
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Apr 11, 2011

Soybean Foundation to offer business-assistance workshops in northern Ohio
 

The Ohio Soybean Council Foundation is planning to host a series of workshops for select small businesses in northern Ohio that manufacture or distribute soy-based bioproducts. The workshops are designed to help small bioproducts companies and distributors expand their marketing and sales efforts to include government markets. To be eligible, companies must be located in Ottawa, Sandusky, Erie, Seneca, Huron, Wyandot, Crawford, Richland, Ashland or Knox counties. The deadline for applications is April 20, 2011.


 
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Apr 01, 2011

President Obama unveils blueprint for national energy policy
 

In case you missed it, President Obama this week unveiled his administration's "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future." The document is mostly a rehash of prior policy statements with a few updates and refinements. Specific proposals include:

  • establishing a Clean Energy Standard, or CES, that would set an annual target for electricity usage from clean energy sources;
  • expanding domestic oil and gas development and production;
  • promoting the transition to electric vehicles;
  • reducing barriers to increased biofuels use;
  • upgrading the federal vehicle fleet;
  • investing in high-speed rail; and
  • continuing rebate programs and other incentives for energy efficiency projects for residential and commercial buildings.

The full document is available here (pdf required).


 
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Mar 28, 2011

Report: Gov. Kasich's energy policy begins to take shape
 

Columbus Business First is featuring an article (subscription required) that takes stock of Governor John Kasich's energy policy and where it's likely to go from here. According to the article, the administration of former Governor Ted Strickland earmarked more than $240 million in state and federal stimulus funding for advanced energy projects. In addition, the state’s Third Frontier technology development program awarded nearly $35 million to such projects from 2008 through this year. Third Frontier funding was preserved in the two-year state budget Kasich introduced March 15, but his spending plan also calls for advanced energy funding from the Department of Development to be cut $9.8 million, or 38 percent, in the next biennium, according to the article.

An administration official clarifies the new governor's policy:

The Kasich administration isn’t turning its back on alternative energy, said Kristi Tanner, assistant director of the Ohio Department of Development. Rather, it is focused on the development of oil and natural gas fields in eastern stretches of the state because of the potential to create jobs and boost economic development.

“We are focused on making certain that we have rules, regulations and legislation in place to help develop that resource in a responsible way,” she said.

As for renewable energy, the administration will concentrate on strengthening the supply chain that serves the industry, Tanner said, including Ohio manufacturers that provide materials and components for solar arrays, wind turbines and biodigesters.

“There are a lot of ways to diversify an energy portfolio,” Tanner said. “It doesn’t all have to be renewables. We are looking at everything – coal, natural gas and nuclear.”


 
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Mar 25, 2011

Commissioners designate Clinton County an Alternative Energy Zone
 

The Clinton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to establish Clinton County as an Alternative Energy Zone, a designation that gives state tax breaks to qualified advanced energy projects, according to an article in The (Wilmington) News Journal. Clinton is now the fifth Ohio county, and the first in southern Ohio to pass an AEZ resolution, according to the article. The Clinton County resolution will now be sent to the Ohio Department of Development for certification.

Under Ohio Senate Bill 232, which revised the tax structure on qualified advanced energy projects, counties can designate themselves as Alternative Energy Zones. Projects in such counties receive the automatic approval of county commissioners, bypassing a separate approval process in counties that are not Alternative Energy Zones. Soon after the Ohio General Assembly approved the measure, Paulding County in northwest Ohio became the first to pass its AEZ resolution. Van Wert, Hardin and Putnam counties have since signed on, according to the article.

Additional information on SB 232 is available here and here.


 
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Mar 25, 2011

Environmental group opposes attempt to shift change-of-law risk in FirstEnergy long-term REC contract case
 

The Environmental Law and Policy Center is opposing what it considers an attempt by a manufacturer to shift all of the risk to renewable energy developers in certain contracts with FirstEnergy in the event that state lawmakers eliminate Ohio's renewable energy requirements. ELPC filed its comments in a case before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in which FirstEnergy is seeking approval of its proposal to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) through ten-year contracts.

Nucor Steel Marion filed comments arguing that if state lawmakers terminate Ohio's renewable energy requirements then FirstEnergy should be allowed to cancel REC contracts entered under the proposal. ELPC argues that Nucor's change-of-law provision would unfairly shift all of the risk to renewable energy developers and make it even harder for the state to reach its renewable energy goals. ELPC's full comments are available here (pdf required).


 
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Mar 18, 2011

EPA extends greenhouse gas emissions reporting deadline to September 2011
 

Pursuant to a congressional mandate in the 2007 Consolidated Appropriations Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized rules establishing mandatory reporting requirements for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2009.  Originally, facilities subject to the reporting rules were required to begin collecting emissions data in 2010, with the first annual report due on March 1, 2011.  Recently, however, the EPA extended the reporting deadline to September 31, 2011 because its computer system proved unable to handle all of the reports by the March deadline. 
 
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Mar 15, 2011

AMP, FirstEnergy enter purchase agreement for Fremont Energy Center
 

FirstEnergy Corp. recently entered into an agreement to sell its Fremont Energy Center to American Municipal Power Inc. (AMP).  The Fremont Energy Center is a natural gas combined cycle generation plant located in Sandusky County, Ohio, that is capable of producing 544 MW of load-following capacity and 163 MW of peaking capacity.  Under terms of the agreement, AMP will purchase the facility for approximately $485 million. 

For more information about the purchase, visit the AMP Web site.


 
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Mar 11, 2011

Ohio Supreme Court rejects AEP-Ohio appeal stemming from 2008/2009 electric security plan proceeding
 

On July 31, 2008, Amended Substitute Senate Bill 221 took effect, thereby creating the hybrid system of electric ratemaking that is in place in Ohio today.  Under Ohio law, the default electric pricing structure, or standard service offer, is set by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in one of two ways: through an electric security plan (ESP), which is neither cost of service nor market-based, but is simply an administratively established rate; or through a market-rate offer, which is a market-based approach that uses a competitive bidding process.  In July 2008, the Ohio Power Company and Columbus Southern Power Company (CSP), known collectively as AEP-Ohio, filed its first ESP.  As part of its proposal, AEP-Ohio requested approval of either: 1) the authority to sell or transfer two electric generation facilities; or 2) the right to recover $51 million per year from Ohio ratepayers to operate those two facilities. 
 
In March 2009, the PUCO denied the transfer request, but granted CSP the alternative relief of cost recovery--an expensive proposition for Ohio ratepayers.  Satisfied with this decision, AEP-Ohio did not file an application for rehearing.  Instead, one of the intervening parties objected to the PUCO's approval of cost recovery by filing an application for rehearing.  The PUCO granted this application for rehearing, concluding that CSP did not prove that its "current revenue is inadequate to cover the costs associated with the generating facilities."  As a result, the PUCO denied both AEP-Ohio's transfer request and its proposed recovery of  $51 million each year.  It was at this point that CSP sought rehearing--a request that was denied.  It is from that ruling that CSP filed its appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court. 
 
On appeal, the Court initially rejected a number of procedural and jurisdictional claims raised by the PUCO and Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (e.g., failure to exhaust administrative remedies and failure to file a timely application for rehearing).  See In re Application of Columbus Southern Power Co., Slip Opinion No. 2011-Ohio-958.  The Court then reasoned that the PUCO's order was not unreasonable or unlawful.  First, the Court explained that R.C. 4928.17(E) simply requires PUCO approval of a request to sell or transfer generating assets. 

Noting that AEP-Ohio testified that it had no plans to sell or transfer the generating assets at the current time, the Court concluded that the PUCO reasonably labeled AEP-Ohio's request premature.  "Requiring CSP to reapply when it had [information regarding the sale price, terms, conditions or public impact--or even whether there would be a sale] was a reasonable application of R.C. 4928.17(E)."  Second, the Court explained that R.C. 4928.17(E) does not support AEP-Ohio's argument that the PUCO must grant cost recovery (and a corresponding rate increase) if it denies a transfer request.  All the statute does is give the PUCO authority to approve or deny the sale of generation assets.  In reaching this decision, the Court noted that CSP produced no evidence that its existing rates were inadequate to cover the costs of operating its generation facilities.  A copy of the opinion can be found here.


 
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Mar 10, 2011

Governor Kasich's 2011 State of the State address references renewable energy industry
 

On March 8, 2011, Governor John Kasich delivered his first State of the State address to Ohioans. During his address, Governor Kasich referenced the importance of FirstSolar in Toledo, noting that the company is "one of the most rapidly rising companies on the New York Stock Exchange."  In addition, Governor Kasich noted the potential for advanced energy development at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. 
 
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Mar 03, 2011

Environmental group releases Ohio clean energy "report card"
 

Environment Ohio has released a report card grading the progress of Ohio's investor-owned utilities since the enactment in 2008 of Senate Bill 221, the law that established Ohio's renewable portfolio standard. According to the report, Ohio, the nation’s second-leading emitter of greenhouse gases, is now saving enough electricity each year to power 43,000 homes because of S.B. 221, among other benefits. Among the state's investor-owned utilities, Duke Energy scored the best in the report and FirstEnergy scored the worst. The executive summary of the report is available here.


 
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Feb 23, 2011

Op-ed: energy innovation key to Ohio's prosperity
 

An op-ed published in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer in the lead-up to President Obama's trip to Cleveland this week to tout his economic plans makes the case that investing in "clean, green energy" is key to Ohio's and America's prosperity. According to the authors, Ronald B. Richard, president and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation, and Teryn Norris, president and founder of Americans for Energy Leadership,

[a]ll over Ohio, advanced energy is spawning employment: The industry already accounts for more than 35,000 jobs in Ohio -- more than all but three other states. Toledo gave birth to one of the world's largest solar-power companies. Some 90 manufacturers are supplying parts for wind turbines.

And we hope the most visible symbol of Ohio's place in this 21st-century economy will soon sprout from Lake Erie near downtown: a wind-turbine farm that will energize homes and help position our region as a global leader in the freshwater wind-power niche.

But the president and his Cabinet must depart from Cleveland State University with the clear understanding that all of this progress is precarious. Without substantial federal and state investment, leadership and policy change, energy innovation in Ohio and all across the United States will short-circuit.

The full column is available here.


 
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Feb 23, 2011

PUCO rejects Duke's market rate offer application
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio rejected Duke Energy Ohio's application to transition to a completely market-based system for establishing its electric generation rates. Duke's rates are currently set pursuant to a three-year price formula negotiated in an electric security plan (ESP) that expires on December 31, 2011.   

Under Ohio law, a utility that still owns electric generating facilities, such as Duke, can transition to wholly market-based rates over a five-year period. In its application for a market rate offer (MRO), Duke interpreted the statute in question to mean that it could shorten the transition period to two years. The Commission disagreed and concluded that Duke's application cannot proceed as filed. The question now is whether Duke will re-file its application as an MRO or an ESP, the choice preferred by the Commission staff. The full order is available here.


 
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Feb 23, 2011

EPA issues long-awaited Boiler MACT rule for boilers, heaters and incinerators
 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its much anticipated Boiler MACT rule for boilers, process heaters and industrial solid-waste incinerators. The rule was finalized on February 21, 2011, pursuant to a court order. Implementation costs associated with the new rule are approximately 50 percent less than those estimated in an earlier proposal issued last year.

Major changes include the addition of “work practice standards" instead of numeric-emission standards for small new boilers, limited-use boilers, and for periods of startup and shutdown. The EPA could not entertain public comments on the revised rule due to the court-imposed deadline. As a result, the EPA also simultaneously issued a Notice of Reconsideration of the final Boiler MACT rule, which will allow the public to comment on certain aspects of the final rule.

To read more, visit the Environmental Protection Agency Web site.


 
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Feb 16, 2011

Event: Port Authority Finance Options for Manufacturers & Developers
 

If you are seeking financing for expansion, equipment or facility infrastructure, please join Bricker & Eckler attorneys and other area professionals for the Port Authority Finance Options for Manufacturers & Developers seminar series on March 4, 2011, at the Embassy Suites, Independence, Ohio. This one-day event will teach you more about funding options available through port authority programs, and you will receive an overview of port lending programs and lean manufacturing, and hear case studies of successful projects that have implemented port funding.

For more details and registration information, visit the Bricker & Eckler Events page.


 
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Feb 14, 2011

Report finds investments in clean U.S. power plants will create significant job growth
 

According to a new report issued by Ceres at the 2011 Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference in Washington D.C., air pollution rules being proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency for the electric power sector will provide economic benefits and jobs across much of the United States over the next five years. The report by Ceres, a national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups, states that:

  • The total employment created by capital investments (estimated at $200 billion over the next five years) could reach 1.46 million jobs, or about 290,000 jobs on average in each of the next five years.
  • Installing modern pollution controls and building new power plants creates a wide array of skilled, high-paying installation, construction and professional jobs.
  • The states that will see the biggest job gains from this construction activity are Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, North Carolina and Indiana.

The full report is available here (pdf required).


 
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Feb 11, 2011

Gov. John Kasich appoints new PUCO chairman
 

Gov. John Kasich has named Todd Snitchler, a Republican state lawmaker from Stark County, to head the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Snitchler is currently in his second term as a state representative and was recently named chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee. He has also served on the House Alternative Energy Committee.
 
Snitchler's appointment to the unexpired term of former Chairman Alan Schriber will have to be confirmed by the Ohio Senate, a step considered a formality. The term ends in April 2014. To read more, visit the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer Web site.
 
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Feb 09, 2011

State brownfield loan program receives makeover
 

The Ohio Water Development Authority (OWDA) and Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) recently reached an agreement to expand and move OWDA's Brownfield Loan Program. The program will now be housed at ODOD with the state's other brownfield remediation programs.


 
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Feb 07, 2011

DP&L delays "smart meter" upgrades
 

The Dayton Daily News reports that Dayton Power & Light Co. is the only major Ohio electric utility that isn’t rolling out digital “smart meters.” According to the report, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio last month approved DP&L’s withdrawal of a $370 million, 10-year plan to create a so-called smart grid here. The project was designed to improve reliability, help customers manage their energy use and costs, and make it easier to integrate renewable energy sources such as wind and solar into the grid.

Duke Energy of Ohio and AEP-Ohio have begun installing smart meters in southwest and central Ohio, and FirstEnergy Corp. plans to launch a pilot program in northeast Ohio this year. DP&L withdrew its plan in October, a year after the Energy Department rejected its application for a $145 million stimulus grant, according to the report. 


 
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Jan 31, 2011

Report: green jobs finding a home in Mansfield
 

The Mansfield News Journal has a report highlighting some of the most promising green energy investments in the Mansfield area. The companies mentioned include Energy Technologies, Inc., whose solar- and wind-powered temporary shelters are being used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Calisolar, Inc., a California-based solar company that is considering establishing manufacturing operations in a former General Motors plant. 


 
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Jan 28, 2011

Results from FirstEnergy’s January 2011 generation auction announced
 

First Energy recently held its second auction—pursuant to the stipulation approved in FirstEnergy’s most recent ESP case—to acquire portions of FirstEnergy’s generation supply. The auction established a new generation price of $55.60 per megawatt hour (MWh) effective for the delivery period of June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2012. There were ten electric generation suppliers registered for the auction, and seven submitted winning bids.


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has released the results of the auction, which are substantially similar to the results of the prior auction held in October 2010. The results indicate a slight upward movement in electric-generation prices, but not in an amount that will have a significant impact on generation prices in the near future. The result is a positive one for customers served by FirstEnergy.  Additional auctions will be held in October 2011, January 2012, October 2012, and January 2013 to establish the generation prices for 2012 and 2013.

For more information, visit the PUCO website.


 
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Jan 25, 2011

Study: world could go completely green by 2030
 

Two U.S. researchers, a transportation expert from the University of California Davis and an atmospheric scientist from Stanford University, argue in a new study that it would be possible for the world to completely switch to renewable sources of energy by 2030. The study was published last month in the journal Energy Policy (subscription required) and is detailed in an article by National Geographic News. So what would such a switch require? A "massive building binge" to construct at least four million wind turbines, 90,000 large-scale solar plants and nearly two billion rooftop solar systems. The article nicely lays out the political and practical obstacles impeding a complete transition to renewable energy.


 
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Jan 21, 2011

Ohio State report suggests different course for Ohio on green jobs
 

Two Ohio State researchers have released a new report that makes some contrarian suggestions about Ohio's place in the clean economy. In their report, "Making Green Jobs Work for Ohio," Mark Partridge, professor of rural-urban policy, and his research assistant Amanda Weinsten conclude that "while Ohio certainly has a place in the green economy, it is not in large solar or wind farms due to a marked lack in both of these renewable resources." The report instead suggests that "Ohio has a unique and strategic opportunity in the green economy if it utilizes its resources to meet the challenges and limitations of renewable energy." Specifically, the report says Ohio should pursue the following green economy sectors by continuing:

  • Conservation and pollution mitigation [initiatives], which likely [have] the greatest job producing capabilities through making the state an attractive place to live;
  • Research and development in alternative energy and energy efficiency supported mainly through Ohio Third Frontier funding. However, in these efforts, the funding should be directed by scientific considerations rather than other considerations;
  • Energy efficiency by encouraging consumers and firms to purchase energy efficient products and other energy efficiency measures;

And by increasing funding toward:

  • The transmission and storage of renewable energy through smart grid investments and advanced instrumentation as many agree this is the current limitation in renewable energy;
  • Other environmentally friendly production in niche cases when market fundamentals support it.

 
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Jan 14, 2011

Ohio Power Siting Board announces two legislative appointments
 

On January 13, 2011, State Representatives Louis W. Blessing Jr. (R) and Jay P. Goyal (D) were named two of the legislative members of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB).  The OPSB is the state agency responsible for reviewing and approving applications for the construction of major utility facilities (those having a nameplate capacity of 50MW or more) and economically significant wind farms (those having a nameplate capacity of 5MW or more).

The OPSB  is comprised of the chairman of the public utilities commission, a representative of the public appointed by the governor and trained as an engineer, as well as the directors of the Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Department of Development, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Department of Agriculture.  In addition, there are four legislative members of the OPSB that participate in a nonvoting capacity.  A legislative member is appointed by each of the following four individuals: the speaker of the House of Representatives, president of the Senate and the minority leaders of both the House and Senate, respectively.


 
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Jan 14, 2011

Monaco-based electric-car maker to set up shop near OSU
 

Venturi Automobiles, and electric-car maker headquartered in Monaco, has announced that it will set up its North American headquarters at TechColumbus offices near The Ohio State University, as recently reported by The Columbus Dispatch. Initially, the company will have just a few employees, but OSU and TechColumbus officials hope that the local presence will grow to a number close to the 70 workers the company has in Europe.

Venturi will work out of an office suite at the TechColumbus building, and plans to later rent manufacturing space at the adjacent Science and Technology Campus Corporation, or SciTech. Another maker of electric cars, Coda Automotive, hopes to open a battery factory in Columbus, but its plan is contingent on receiving a federal loan of more than $500 million.

To read more, visit The Columbus Dispatch Web site.


 
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Jan 13, 2011

Owens Community College to offer new alternative-energy degree
 

A new, two-year alternative-energy and sustainable-systems degree will be offered by Owens Community College beginning with the upcoming 2011 spring semester, according to WTVG news in Toledo. The energy-focused academic program is being offered on the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, and was recently passed by the Ohio Board of Regents.
 
"Green technology is becoming more and more important in our energy-driven society," said Randy Wharton, Owens Chair of Design Technologies and Co-Interim Dean of the School of Technology. "As the demand for existing and emerging technologies within alternative and renewable energy grows, the need for highly qualified technicians is a necessity."

To read more about the new program, please visit the My ABC Web site.


 
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Jan 05, 2011

OSHA fines LM Wind Power Blades following worker fatality
 

As recently reported by North American Wind Power, and after a five-month investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued five safety violations to LM Wind Power Blades Inc. of Grand Forks, N.D., for, among other things, exposing workers to fall-and-crush hazards that  resulted in the death of one worker. The charges include one "willful," three "serious" and one "other-than-serious" citation. The proposed penalties are in the amount of $92,000. 

Read more of the story here on the North American Wind Power Web site.


 
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Jan 03, 2011

Ohio advanced energy tax reform rules finalized
 

The final version of the rules implementing Ohio Senate Bill 232, which significantly reduces the tax burden on advanced energy projects in Ohio, will be effective as of January 10, 2011. SB 232 was enacted last June, and in September, Governor Ted Strickland signed an executive order  implementing the new law's administrative rules that spell out the criteria energy projects must meet to enjoy the tax benefit. As so-called "emergency rules," the rules were effective immediately, but they were set to expire after 90 days. The final, permanent version of the rules will become part of the Ohio Administrative Code. They are identical to the emergency rules except for one minor change to a provision regulating the delegation of duties from the director of the Ohio Department of Development to other individuals.


 
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Dec 30, 2010

Ohio governor-elect Kasich nominates directors for EPA, DNR
 

John Kasich, governor-elect from Ohio, has nominated Scott Nally to lead the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Nally is currently an assistant commissioner with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Kasich also nominated David Mustine to head the Department of Natural Resources. Mustine is a former executive with American Electric Power.

An article in The Columbus Dispatch on the appointments is available here.


 
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Dec 30, 2010

Strickland names Lesser as PUCO chair; also names interim department directors
 

Governor Ted Strickland has appointed four Ohioans to serve in the top spot at various state agencies, including naming Public Utilities Commissioner Steven Lesser as the PUCO chairman, according to the Gongwer News Service.

The appointments were made after several agency directors resigned before governor-elect John Kasich takes office in early January.

Governor Strickland has appointed Tim Espich as interim director of Veterans Services, George Maier as interim director of Public Safety and Major Gen. Matthew Kambic as interim Adjutant General.


 
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Dec 29, 2010

U.S. EPA, Congress poised to clash over carbon regulations in 2011
 

Reuters has a quality overview of the looming showdown between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and House of Representatives over the agency's efforts to regulate greenhouse gases. The article's introduction sets the stage nicely:

Rep. Fred Upton recently suggested that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson would soon be testifying at oversight hearings so often that she should reserve a personal parking place on Capitol Hill.

With that remark, the Michigan Republican poised to dictate the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s agenda set the tone for how acrimonious the relationship between the 112th Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency might become.

And EPA authorities likely added fuel to an incendiary situation by waiting until Dec. 23—the day after Congress adjourned for the year—to spell out what scientific standards refineries and power plants must meet relatively quickly to limit their prolific carbon emissions.

The full article is available here.


 
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Dec 23, 2010

OSU will use geothermal wells to heat, cool five dorms
 

Courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio State University plans to drill 550 feet beneath its campus to tap Earth's temperature to heat and cool five dormitories. According to the article, the project will require OSU to drill 450 geothermal wells. The dormitories in question do not have air conditioning, and the university said that providing them with a cooling system has become a priority as the switch from quarters to semesters approaches in 2012.


 
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Dec 08, 2010

U.S. EPA asks federal court to delay air-pollution rule
 

Courtesy of Politico.com, the Obama administration wants to delay the release of a controversial air pollution rule that has come under fire from myriad lawmakers and industry groups. The U.S. EPA asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday to delay by more than a year its court-ordered deadline for issuing rules aimed at slashing toxic air pollution from industrial boilers and solid-waste incinerators to give the agency more time to weigh the flood of comments it received. The agency is seeking to push back its Jan. 16, 2011, deadline to April 2012, according to the report.


 
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Dec 06, 2010

PUCO approves experimental "time-of-day" pricing for some AEP customers
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio authorized American Electric Power subsidiary Columbus Southern Power to offer experimental "time-of-day" pricing to some of its small commercial and residential customers as part of its gridSMART program. Under the plan, customers who volunteer for the special pricing will be charged a reduced generation rate during low-cost hours -- defined as midnight to 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight -- and a higher generation rate during high-cost summer hours -- defined as 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. during the months of June through September. The full PUCO order can be found here. A primer on smart-grid technology is available here


 
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Nov 30, 2010

PUCO Chairman Schriber to retire at year-end
 

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Alan R. Schriber announced that he will retire on December 31. Schriber has led the PUCO for nearly 12 years in the regulation of electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, and commercial transportation in the state of Ohio. He was appointed by Gov. Bob Taft in 1999 and reappointed by Taft in 2004, and Gov. Ted Strickland in 2007 and 2009. Schriber also served as a PUCO commissioner from 1983-1989 as appointed by Gov. Richard F. Celeste. It is unclear at this point who will likely succeed Schriber as chairman.  


 
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Nov 19, 2010

Forecast: Clean energy job growth will continue to outstrip other sectors
 

A new series of articles by RenewableEnergyWorld.com is examining the job creation potential in the renewable energy industry. The first installment is here. The second installment is here. The articles highlight the rapid job growth in the industry in recent years and predict that the growth will continue to outstrip other sectors. The upshot of the second installment, however, is that the weakened state of the broader economy is masking that growth:  

In looking at the data, it is clear that in all renewable energy technologies but one [wind], in 2011 there will be significantly more jobs than there are now. The simple fact is that clean energy is indeed growing and creating jobs, but with U.S. unemployment figures so large, it’s just been hard to notice.


 
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Nov 17, 2010

FirstEnergy cancels controversial biomass project
 

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. announced that it is canceling the coal-to-biomass conversion project at its R.E. Burger power plant in Belmont County, Ohio. The announcement comes two days after the Ohio Environmental Council filed a notice of appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the recent certification of the plant as a renewable energy generating facility based on its ability to co-fire biomass and coal.

The project has drawn fire from the renewable energy industry and environmental groups because of the special weight that would have been given to renewable energy credits (RECs) produced at the plant under certain circumstances. FirstEnergy said lower market prices for electricity caused it to cancel the Burger project. The utility now plans to permanently close the facility by December 31, 2010.  Background on the Burger project is available here.


 
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Nov 16, 2010

Duke Energy Ohio files application with the PUCO seeking approval of a market rate offer
 

On November 15, 2010, Duke Energy Ohio filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) seeking approval of a market rate offer (MRO) to conduct a competitive bidding process for procuring its standard service offer (SSO) generation supply. A copy of the application, supporting testimony, and workpapers can be obtained from the PUCO's website at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=10-2586. Among other things, the application provides notice that Duke intends to make a separate filing no later than May 31, 2014, requesting the transfer of its legacy generation assets to an affiliate, and seeks approval of:

  • A competitive bid process under which Duke would hold a series of descending-price, full requirements auctions to procure its retail generation supply from January 1, 2012, forward (which is very similar to the process recently approved by the PUCO as part of FirstEnergy's SSO cases);
  • Duke's transition to full market prices through the blending of existing generation rates under the electric security plan (ESP) ending on December 31, 2011, and the SSO price obtained through the auctions referenced above;
  • A new rider recovering the costs of procuring renewable energy credits (RECs) to meet Duke's annual renewable energy benchmarks; and
  • Recovery of the costs associated with Duke's transition from the MISO to PJM regional transmission organizations, including MISO exit fees, PJM integration costs, and legacy regional transmission expansion plan (RTEP) costs.

Of note for the renewable energy industry is the fact that Duke's MRO application emphasizes that it is "better positioned, under an MRO [as opposed to the existing three-year ESP], to enter into long-term [power purchase agreements] and conduct [requests for proposals], which will serve to encourage investment in the state." 


 
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Nov 16, 2010

Ohio Environmental Council files Ohio Supreme Court appeal in FirstEnergy biomass plant certification case
 

The Ohio Environmental Council has filed a notice of appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the certification of FirstEnergy's R.E. Burger power plant as a renewable energy generating facility based upon its ability to co-fire biomass and coal. More notable for the renewable energy industry, the notice of appeal also challenges the constitutionality of Ohio Revised Code 4928.65, which gives greater weight to certain renewable energy credits (RECs) from the Burger facility—the only biomass facility able to satisfy the prerequisites in the statute. More information can be obtained from the Ohio Supreme Court's docket. Coverage of earlier developments in the Burger case is available here, here and here.


 
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Nov 12, 2010

Public charging station for electric vehicles opens in Cleveland
 

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer is featuring an article about Northeast Ohio's first public charging station for electric vehicles. It's located in front of a building on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland that was the showroom for a brand of all-electric vehicles at the turn of the last century. The article provides a nice snapshot of the state of the all-electric vehicle market now and the role that a couple of Cleveland companies are playing. The owner of the station, Recharge Power of Gates Mills, says it plans to install as many as 30 charging stations around the Cleveland area over the next two months.


 
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Nov 12, 2010

FirstEnergy power plant could "obliterate" Ohio's fledgling renewable energy market
 

An analysis by a Bloomberg financial analyst finds that renewable energy credits (RECs) produced by FirstEnergy's Burger power plant, which was modified to produce power from biomass feedstock, could satisfy all of the utility's requirements under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and potentially "obliterate" all of the state's in-state requirements under the RPS. The analyst presented his findings at the 2010 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in Portland, Ore.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in August approved the certification of the Burger facility as a renewable energy resource capable of generating and selling RECs in Ohio. A special statutory provision applicable only to the Burger facility gives special weight to the RECs it produces under certain circumstances, in effect turning Burger RECs into "bonus" RECs.

Depending on how the PUCO decides to calculate the bonus RECs, Burger RECs could potentially flood the Ohio renewable energy marketplace, allowing FirstEnergy to satisfy its obligations under Ohio's RPS for the duration of the RPS and depressing the rest of the Ohio REC market. The PUCO has yet to decide on the Burger REC calculation. PUCO staff comments on the calculation are available here (pdf required). Comments and reply comments by the American Wind Energy Association arguing against the staff interpretation are available here and here (pdf required).


 
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Nov 11, 2010

Coal takes center stage in America's clean-energy future in new report
 

The Atlantic's cover story this month is an engaging analysis of the importance of coal to America's clean-energy future. It is a must-read for anyone with an interest in energy policy, regardless of your opinion of coal. James Fallows, the article's author, frames his piece this way:

The proposition that coal could constitute any kind of “hope” or solution, or that a major environmentalist action plan could be called “Coal Without Carbon,” as one I will describe is indeed named—this goes beyond seeming interestingly contrarian to seeming simply wrong. For the coal industry, the term “clean coal” is an advertising slogan; for many in the environmental movement, it is an insulting oxymoron. But two ideas that underlie the term are taken with complete seriousness by businesses, scientists, and government officials in China and America, and are the basis of the most extensive cooperation now under way between the countries on climate issues. One is that coal can be used in less damaging, more sustainable ways than it is now. The other is that it must be used in those ways, because there is no plausible other way to meet what will be, absent an economic or social cataclysm, the world’s unavoidable energy demands.


 
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Nov 11, 2010

EPA releases greenhouse gas guidelines for states
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released guidelines instructing states how to issue permits for industrial facilities that are major sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when new federal regulations take effect on January 2, 2011. The agency reportedly crafted the guidelines to give states substantial flexibility in deciding how best to limit GHG emissions, according to this article in The Wall Street Journal.

In the absence of congressional action on climate and energy legislation - which is likely to continue under a divided Congress when the Republicans take control of the U.S. House next year - the EPA has pressed ahead with its plans to bring GHG emissions under its regulatory authority. Business groups and politicians from major industrial states have been critical of the EPA's plans. And based on the reaction to the EPA's new guidelines, that criticism is also likely to continue.

Other news accounts of the guidelines are available here, here and here. The full guidance document is available here (pdf required).


 
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Nov 09, 2010

N.Y. Times: cost concerns slow renewable energy development
 

A New York Times article provides a nice overview of a pattern playing out across the country: state regulators putting the brakes on renewable energy development due to cost concerns. According to the report, even as many politicians, environmentalists and consumers want renewable energy and reduced dependence on fossil fuels, a growing number of projects are being canceled or delayed because governments are unwilling to add even small amounts to consumers’ electricity bills.


 
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Nov 09, 2010

More midterms news analysis: gauging the impact on Toledo’s solar industry
 

The (Toledo) Blade joined the list of news publications analyzing the impact of the midterm elections on the U.S. renewable energy market, and specifically, the solar industry in the Toledo area. According to the report, despite a growing U.S. solar energy market, a changing political landscape – including the sweeping success of Republicans in last week’s election and the pending expiration of important government incentives – is presenting challenges for the industry.


 
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Nov 05, 2010

News analysis roundup: the midterms' impact on U.S. renewable energy policy
 

News organizations are churning out a steady stream of news analysis articles on the impact of this week's midterm elections on U.S. renewable energy policy. For renewable energy supporters, they range in tone from seriously bearish to cautiously optimistic. Here are some of the best articles thus far:  


 

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Nov 04, 2010

EPA report highlights benefits of voluntary REC purchases
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership has released a draft white paper highlighting the environmental value of purchasing renewable energy credits voluntarily, according to this report in North American Windpower. The paper addresses the role of RECs in the renewable energy marketplace, their role in reducing emissions, and the manner in which a corporate greenhouse gas inventory accounts for the environmental value of a voluntary REC purchase. Information on the EPA's Green Power Partnership is available here. The white paper is available here (pdf required).


 
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Nov 02, 2010

FirstEnergy begins demonstration of utility-scale fuel cell system in Eastlake
 

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. and Ballard Power Systems have started testing a 1 MW utility-scale fuel cell system at FirstEnergy's power plant in Eastlake, Ohio. Considered the world's largest proton exchange membrane hydrogen-powered fuel cell, the 54-foot-long unit is mounted on a tractor-trailer for mobility and produces enough electricity to power more than 600 homes. Its only byproducts are heat and water. Over the next five years, the companies will test the performance of the system in real-world operating conditions to better understand its capability to provide generating capacity during peak usage periods in the months of May through September. News coverage of the project is available here.


 
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Oct 28, 2010

$6 billion coal-to-liquids fuel project along Ohio River moves forward
 

The company behind a $6 billion coal-to-liquids fuel project in Columbiana County announced that it has financing in place to move forward with development plans, according to this article in the Youngstown Business Journal. The chief executive of Baard Energy LLC, based in Vancouver, Wash., recently said at an event in Wellsville, Ohio, that investors in the coal and energy markets have committed $2.5 billion so far that will be used to purchase property for the project and prepare it for construction.

According to the article, the plant will use coal and other alternate feedstocks, such as waste wood, to produce 52,000 barrels daily of diesel and jet fuel, as well as naphtha. Naphtha is a low-octane gasoline used as a feedstock in the chemical industry. Purchase of the land will begin next month and continue through the holiday season followed by engineering and construction work. Construction will create up to 4,000 jobs, and the plant itself will employ some 415 when it is operating, according to the article.


 
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Oct 28, 2010

Sen. Brown renews call to extend Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit
 

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) renewed his call this week to extend the Department of Energy's Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, a popular stimulus program that provides a 30 percent credit for domestic companies that invest in new, expanded, or re-equipped clean energy manufacturing projects. Brown said that the program provided seven Ohio companies with tax credits worth more than $125 million. The program was more than three times oversubscribed and has since run out of funds.


 
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Oct 27, 2010

New bipartisan report provides roadmap for revamped federal energy policy
 

With a divided federal government looking increasingly likely after the upcoming midterm elections, a new bipartisan report on federal energy policy could provide a glimpse of future climate and energy legislation. The report, Post-Partisan Power, is the product of scholars at the American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, and Breakthrough Institute. The report suggests a departure from the current strategy to transition to clean-energy sources, which includes subsidies for existing technologies and proposed comprehensive carbon-limiting legislation, such as cap-and-trade. Under the new framework outlined in the report, "the federal government would directly drive innovation and adoption [of clean-energy sources] through basic research, development, and procurement in the same way it did with computers, pharmaceutical drugs, radios, microchips, and many other technologies."

The full report is available here (pdf required).


 
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Oct 25, 2010

Frito-Lay rolls out electric delivery trucks in Columbus market
 

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division recently rolled out a fleet of all-electric delivery trucks in the Columbus market. This year, Columbus is one of three cities in the U.S., along with New York City and Ft. Worth, Texas, to receive the trucks. The trucks, designed by Smith Electric Vehicles, generate zero tailpipe emissions and operate for up to 100 miles on a single charge. The initial rollout in Columbus was facilitated through a partnership with the nonprofit Clean Fuels Ohio. The company projects it will roll out 155 additional trucks in 2011, making Frito-Lay the largest commercial fleet of all-electric trucks in North America.


 
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Oct 22, 2010

PUCO accepts results of FirstEnergy auction establishing retail generation rates
 

On October 22, 2010, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved the results of the first of six wholesale generation auctions that will determine FirstEnergy’s retail generation rates for the time period from June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2014. Conducted on October 20, 2010, the auction involved 10 participating bidders. As the PUCO's Order explained, "4 bidders submitted winning bids during the CBP auction for a clearing price of $54.55 per MWh for the June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012, delivery period, $54.10 per MWh for tiie June 1, 2011 to May 31,2013, delivery period, and $56.58 per MWh for the June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2014, delivery period." More specific information regarding the auction (e.g. the names of winning bidders and the number of tranches won by each bidder) will be available in about three weeks on the PUCO docketing division's website in Case No. 10-1284-EL-UNC.
 
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Oct 21, 2010

Hardin County designated an Alternative Energy Zone by commissioners
 

On October 5, 2010 the Hardin County Commissioners passed a resolution designating the county as an Alternative Energy Zone by a unanimous vote of three to zero. Under SB 232, the county commissioners must approve each qualified energy tax exemption for projects in their respective county that are greater than 5 MW in size. As an alternative to this case-by-case review process, the county commissioners may pass a resolution declaring the county an "alternative energy zone" pursuant to section 5727.75(E)(1)(c) of the Ohio Revised Code.

Read the full resolution here.


 
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Oct 20, 2010

Ohio Green Energy Market Makers: GEO Business-to-Business Workshop
 

With Ohio’s Advanced Energy Fund set to expire at the end of 2010, what can emerging green-energy businesses throughout the state do to stay competitive? To find out, plan on attending the Ohio Green Energy Market Makers Business-to-Business Workshop, which will be held in Columbus on Tuesday, October 26. The event will showcase Ohio companies using clean energy systems and incentives, and will feature workshops hosted by venture capitalists, private-and-public financiers and developers. Presenters will include Bricker & Eckler’s Terrence O’Donnell who will discuss “Ohio's Advanced Energy Marketplace:  Where We Go From Here.”

Click here for a detailed agenda and registration information.


 
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Oct 19, 2010

Report: Expiration of Advanced Energy Fund could put brakes on advanced energy growth in Southeast Ohio
 

The expiration of Ohio's Advanced Energy Fund at the end of the year could seriously harm the upstart advanced energy industry in Southeast Ohio, according to an article in Ohio University's student newspaper The Post. The fund has financed 49 advanced energy projects in Athens County, totaling more than $800,000, according to the Ohio Department of Development's most recent figures. The fund's expiration, which will occur on December 31 without legislative action, would have the biggest impact on the region's solar industry, which includes companies such as Dovetail Solar & Wind and Third Sun Solar Power. More information on the expiration of the fund is available at the website of Ohio Advanced Energy, the trade group that is advocating for extension of the fund.


 
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Oct 19, 2010

State grants help create wind energy research center at Stark State College of Technology
 

The Third Frontier Commission and Advisory Board has approved $2.1 million in funding for creation of a Wind Energy Research and Development Center at Stark State College of Technology in North Canton, according to this article in The (Youngstown) Business Journal. The project is a collaboration between the college, Timken Co., Stark Development Board Inc. and Stark County Port Authority.

The center will be operated by Timken. It will be housed in a 12,000-square-foot facility and will act as a test center for wind turbines. State assistance also includes a $1.5 million loan from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority’s advanced energy jobs stimulus program. The college will receive a $1.23 million Ohio Third Frontier research and development attraction program grant for equipment and the construction of the center. Timken will receive a $900,000 grant for the development of the center.


 
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Oct 19, 2010

AEP proposes merger of its Ohio Power and Columbus Southern Power subsidiaries
 

AEP filed an application yesterday (October 18) with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio seeking approval of a merger between its Ohio Power and Columbus Southern Power subsidiaries.  AEP's application states that the merger is necessary to "efficiently prepare, file, and process" a standard service offer (SSO) application (which is expected to be filed soon) as well as a general distribution rate (which AEP proposes to file within the next few months).

The application can be found on the PUCO's website (pdf required).


 
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Oct 18, 2010

FERC begins smart grid rulemaking process
 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has taken the first step in starting a formal rulemaking proceeding for national smart grid standards. Working in conjunction with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), FERC has the task of implementing the mandates in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to incorporate smart grid technologies into the nation's electric grid. The new standards are aimed at ensuring smart grid functionality and interoperability in interstate transmission of electric power, and regional and wholesale electricity markets. Among other things, the rules will:

  • provide a common information model necessary for exchanges of data between devices and networks, primarily in the transmission and distribution domains;
  • facilitate substation automation, communication and interoperability through a common data format; and
  • facilitate exchanges of information between control centers.

FERC has created a docket, RM11-2-000, for this rulemaking, and in the near future will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking that will include opportunity for public comment.


 
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Oct 13, 2010

Cleveland to play host to globalization conference on Oct. 18
 

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is bringing its third-annual Globalization and the Midwest Conference to the City Club of Cleveland on Oct. 18. The conference will focus on new financing mechanisms that will be needed to fund the Midwest's transition to new energy technologies. John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development in the U.S. Department of Commerce and former mayor of Bloomington, Indiana, will deliver the keynote address.

Breakout sessions over lunch will discuss creating a Midwest Clean Energy Investors Network, university technology transfers, and community colleges’ roles in training the needed workforce. Registration information is available here. A conference agenda is available here (pdf required).


 
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Oct 12, 2010

Cleveland company awarded $3 million for fuel cell development
 

Cleveland-based Technology Management, Inc. announced it received more than $3 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Ohio to launch the company's 1-kilowatt fuel cells into rural, residential and military markets. TMI received about $2.5 million from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority's Advanced Energy Program to support commercialization of TMI’s compact fuel cell system. The company was awarded another $500,000 from the Energy Department.


 
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Oct 05, 2010

OSU to participate in U.S.-China clean-energy research
 

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently announced that engineers at Ohio State University have been named to one of two research partnerships between the U.S. and China to study clean-energy development. The two consortia, one led by the University of Michigan and one led by West Virginia University, will receive a total of $25 million over the next five years under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) program.

OSU will participate in the CERC-Clean Vehicles group led by the University of Michigan, and will provide research expertise in the areas of vehicle-grid integration and plug-in vehicles; aging and damage characterization of advanced batteries; lightweight vehicle structures; thermoelectrics for the recovery of waste heat; electric drive and power electronic systems; and alternative fuels and advanced engines.

For more information visit the OSU Web site.


 
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Oct 05, 2010

Gov. Strickland announces advanced energy jobs training awards
 

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland recently announced the first round of the Energizing Careers Program awards to five companies in Northwest and Northeast Ohio. The $1.7 million in awards will fund training for up to 800 Ohio workers.

The $6 million Energizing Careers Program, administered by the Ohio Department of Development, was launched in June 2010 to help train Ohio's workforce for careers in the state's growing advanced energy manufacturing sector. The awards were made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The program assists companies supplying components for the wind, solar and biomass industries by providing customized training.

Companies receiving Energizing Careers Program training dollars in the first round include:

  • Buckeye Silicon, Inc. (Lucas County) will receive up to $239,000 for worker training to produce solar grade crystalline polysilicon.
  • First Solar, Inc. (Wood County) will receive up to $1,025,760 for worker training to manufacture photovoltaic modules.
  • Nextronex Energy Systems, LLC (Lucas County) will receive up to $210,000 for worker training to manufacture a line of solar inverters and energy maximization systems.
  • UniControl, Inc. (Cuyahoga County) will receive up to $46,000 for worker training to manufacture controls and instruments for the fossil fuel and biomass industries.
  • Xunlight Corporation (Lucas County) will receive up to $229,000 for worker training to develop and manufacture high performance flexible and lightweight solar modules.

For more information on the Energizing Careers Program, visit http://www.ohioworkforceboard.org/.


 
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Oct 05, 2010

Cleveland, suburbs forming special district to help businesses invest in energy improvements
 

Cleveland and ten of its surrounding suburbs are forming a special district to help owners of commercial and industrial properties invest in solar panels and other alternative-energy systems. As reported in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, the “alternative-energy district” will be the first of its kind in Ohio. Cities within the district will help businesses borrow for energy improvements, with the loans being paid off through assessments on property taxes.

For more information read The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer article here.


 
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Oct 04, 2010

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy to speak in Athens
 

U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Dr. James Markowsky, will be the keynote speaker at the advanced energy conference to be held at Ohio University’s Walter Hall on October 18 and 19.

The conference, sponsored by TechGROWTH Ohio, will bring together energy innovators and investors to explore potential business opportunities. Dr. Markowsky will be joined by U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville), along with energy professionals who will hold panels on topics ranging from the impact of recent federal and state policy changes to protection of intellectual property during the commercialization process.


 
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Sep 30, 2010

Kasich voices support of Ohio's renewable portfolio standard
 

After being criticized by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for allegedly negative comments he made about Ohio's renewable portfolio standard, gubernatorial candidate John Kasich voiced his support of the RPS on Wednesday. Strickland's camp argued that, based on comments he made to the Dayton Daily News last week (see earlier post here), Kasich would consider repealing the RPS as governor. A Kasich spokesman replied by saying that Kasich does not oppose the RPS and would not seek to repeal it, according to this article in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.
 
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Sep 28, 2010

Report touts benefits of Ohio's renewable portfolio standard
 

Ohio's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requiring investor-owned electric utilities to boost advanced energy generation and reduce overall energy consumption is laying the groundwork for economic growth, reduced pollution and cost savings, according to a new report by nonprofit research group Policy Matters Ohio. With evidence of utilities changing their behavior and increasing investments in renewable energy, the report concludes that Ohio Senate Bill 221, which created the RPS, is a successful policy.

The report notes that for the law to continue to succeed, the efforts of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to enforce the benchmarks are crucial. The report also recommends that policymakers:

  • expand the clean energy standards;
  • expand and extend Ohio’s Advanced Energy Fund, which is set to expire at the end of this year; and
  • examine biomass more closely.

 
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Sep 27, 2010

Kasich, Strickland differ on state energy policy
 

The Dayton Daily News has an article detailing the differences in approach taken by Ohio's gubernatorial candidates to Ohio's renewable and advanced energy policy. The upshot: "Strickland has enthusiasm to spare for the state's entry into the renewable energy arena," while "Kasich hedges at points, wondering whether short-term costs to consumers might prod him to work against the state's mandated goal that by 2025 at least 25 percent of energy sold here comes from either renewable or 'advanced' sources, including nuclear power."


 
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Sep 23, 2010

Champaign County and three townships file second appeal of Ohio Power Siting Board's opinion, order and certificate in case of Buckeye Wind LLC
 

On September 10, 2010, an intervening group consisting of Champaign County, Goshen Township, Salem Township, and Union Township filed a notice of appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the Ohio Power Siting Board's opinion, order and certificate issued to Buckeye Wind LLC. The appeal focuses on the OPSB's decision relating to financial assurances for road/bridge repairs and wind farm decommissioning. A copy of the notice of appeal can be found here. A prior blog entry dated September 7, 2010 discussed a parallel appeal filed by a group of concerned local residents.
 
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Sep 22, 2010

Registration ends this week for Columbus renewable energy roadshow
 

Registration ends this Friday for the renewable energy roadshow coming to the Columbus Hyatt Regency on Wed., Sept. 29. Sponsored by the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, the roadshow will focus on the wind and solar industries' supply chains. Admission is $65 for Chamber members and $75 for nonmembers. Speakers at the event include:

  • Friedo Sieleman, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Washington D.C.
  • Lisa Patt-McDaniel, Ohio Department of Development
  • Tim Foster, Siemens Industry, Inc.
  • Brian King, WILO USA LLC
  • Tom Maves, American Wind Energy Association
  • Aaron Peterson, juwi Wind LLC

 
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Sep 21, 2010

Report: Senate inaction on climate legislation costs U.S. billions in private investment
 

China and other leading nations have gained more than $11 billion in job-creating clean-energy investments -- with the U.S. losing an estimated $208 million every day -- since the U.S. Senate abandoned comprehensive clean energy legislation in late July, according to a new analysis from Small Business Majority, Main Street Alliance, American Businesses for Clean Energy and We Can Lead.

The analysis shows that, if left unremedied, the Senate's failure to act will cost the United States 1.9 million jobs -- including 600,000 in the 10 states with joblessness in excess of 10 percent. The report estimates that Ohio will lose out on 61,000 jobs.


 
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Sep 20, 2010

Sustainability summit coming to Cleveland
 

Sustainable Cleveland 2019, a public-private partnership that promotes green economic initiatives in Northeast Ohio, is hosting its second annual sustainability summit in Cleveland this week. This year's gathering, "Summit 2010: The Glocal Engine," will be held Wednesday and Thursday at the Cleveland Convention Center. This year’s summit will focus on the strength of the local economy in positioning the region to be globally competitive. The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer has a curtain raiser on the event


 
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Sep 20, 2010

OSU, Colorado State join forces on advanced energy research
 

Ohio State University and Colorado State University announced that they have created a shared leadership position to explore energy and environment-related research and economic development opportunities. The three-year position -- called the Vice President and Enterprise Executive for Energy and the Environment -- will be filled by Ron Sega, former astronaut and Under Secretary of the U.S. Air Force who currently serves as Colorado State's Vice President for Energy and the Environment. Sega, who obtained his master’s degree in physics at Ohio State, will split his time between Ohio State and Colorado State and serve as a full-time tenured faculty member in both institutions’ colleges of engineering.


 
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Sep 14, 2010

New blog developed to provide information on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs
 

A July 8, 2010 blog post explained that mortgage loan giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been directed to tighten their underwriting standards before purchasing mortgages tied to PACE programs. This development heightened the intrigue surrounding PACE programs as they continue to spread throughout the country. A new blog, called PACE NOW, contains numerous resources on PACE programs, including recent legislative developments at the federal level and information on state-specific PACE programs.
 
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Sep 13, 2010

Duke Energy continues "smart grid" deployment
 

Duke Energy has selected California-based Echelon Corporation and Massachusetts-based Ambient Corporation to further develop its grid-based communications architecture that connects various digital devices such as smart meters, power line sensors and automated power switching equipment. Duke currently uses products developed by both Ambient and Echelon as part of its smart grid deployment efforts in Ohio, and in pilot projects in North Carolina and South Carolina.

A key component of Duke’s smart-grid communications architecture is the communications node. The nodes are installed on the grid alongside electric power transformers. Once in place, the devices can gather data from numerous digital devices and send it over a telecommunications network to Duke, where the information is collected and used for purposes such as billing and power grid management.


 
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Sep 10, 2010

Union accuses China of illegal clean energy subsidies
 

The New York Times reports that a broad trade case filed by the United Steelworkers accuses China of unfairly subsidizing its clean energy industry. The filing alleges that China has violated the World Trade Organization's free-trade rules by subsidizing exports of clean energy equipment like solar panels and wind turbines. Through its policies, fair or otherwise, China has helped turn its makers of that equipment into the global leaders, while manufacturers in the United States and Europe have struggled financially, cut jobs and in some cases moved operations to China.


 
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Sep 01, 2010


 


 
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Aug 26, 2010

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Approves FirstEnergy ESP With Minor Modifications
 

On August 25, 2010, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved a stipulated three-year electric security plan (ESP) for FirstEnergy's electric distribution utilities in Ohio in Case No. 10-388-EL-SSO. The parties to the stipulation represented a wide variety of customer classes, including governmental aggregators, manufacturers, hospitals, secondary and post-secondary schools, low-income residential customers, and the PUCO Staff. Among other things, the PUCO-approved ESP:

  • Establishes a competitive bid process (auctions) by which retail generation rates will be established for the time period June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2014 
  • Implements an 80% load cap that not only prevents a bidder from winning more than 80% of the load available in the auction, but extends the load cap to include post-auction assignments of load 
  • Recognizes that there will be no minimum stay period or standby charges for residential and small commercial customers not participating in a governmental aggregation 
  • Creates an RFP process by which FirstEnergy will obtain renewable energy credits (RECs) through long term contracts 
  • Continues a distribution base rate freeze through June 1, 2014 
  • Establishes the Delivery Capital Recovery Rider (Rider DCR), which will allow FirstEnergy to recover the costs of distribution improvements up to a maximum of $390 million over the three-year life of the ESP 
  • Prevents FirstEnergy's retail customers from being held responsible for certain costs associated with its transition from MISO to PJM, including MISO exit fees, PJM integration costs, and at least $360 million in legacy RTEP costs 
  • Continues the interruptible demand response programs available to industrial customers under Riders ELR and OLR 
  • Provides funding to three political subdivisions and four trade associations representing manufacturers, hospitals, small businesses, and colleges for assistance with the implementation of energy efficiency projects 
  • Provides important economic development incentives to the Cleveland Clinic and domestic automaker facilities in Ohio 
  • Creates a pilot LED streetlight program for the City of Cleveland 
  • Continues the fuel fund available to low-income customers.

Parties have 30 days to file applications for rehearing, and FirstEnergy retains the power to reject the modified ESP and explore other alternatives for the procurement of its generation supply from June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2014.


 
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Aug 23, 2010

Federal report legitimizes carbon capture, notes barriers to its adoption
 

A new federal report (pdf) finds that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a viable technology, but notes that its widespread market acceptance will take decades absent government financial and policy support. The report was released by the Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage, established by President Obama in February and co-chaired by the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. 

The report concludes that CCS can play an important role in reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions while preserving the option of using abundant domestic fossil energy resources. However, widespread cost-effective deployment of CCS will occur only if the technology is commercially available at economically competitive prices and supportive national policy frameworks are in place.


 
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Aug 16, 2010

Annual Renewables & Energy Efficiency Roadshow coming to Columbus on September 29
 

Building on the success of the last two years’ Roadshows, The Annual Renewables & Energy Efficiency Roadshow will be in Columbus on September 29, 2010. The show, part of the Transatlantic Climate Bridge, is sponsored by the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany Chicago and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The primary objective of the Roadshow is to “open a dialog of partnership between two of the world’s leading countries in developing and implementing new renewable and energy efficiency technologies.” Sponsorship packages are available for the local events and for the entire Roadshow.

For more information, please contact Bernadett Steiner, Renewables Project Manager, at Steiner@gaccom.org or call 312.494.2180. 


 
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Aug 13, 2010

OCC files complaint at PUCO against FirstEnergy regarding interconnection and net-metering practices
 

On August 12, 2010, the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel filed a complaint against the First Energy electric distribution companies (FirstEnergy) alleging violations of Ohio's "net-metering rules, and interconnection rules by enforcing interconnection standards that are unduly burdensome and expensive."  In particular, the complaint alleges that FirstEnergy: 1) has made it unduly burdensome for five (5) customers to interconnect their small wind turbines to FirstEnergy's distribution system; and 2) included language in its net metering application that violates Ohio's net metering policies.  FirstEnergy will have 20 days to respond to the complaint.  A copy of the complaint can be found here.


 
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Aug 11, 2010

Proposal deadline approaching for Ohio Department of Development’s "Transforming Waste to Value" program
 

The Ohio Department of Development is accepting proposals for funds available for its “Transforming Waste to Value” program offered through the State Energy Plan and the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The goal of the State Energy Plan is to convert municipal solid wastes, food and farm wastes and other bio-mass waste materials into electricity, heat, fuel and/or bio-products, and to create jobs.

To be considered for funding, all interested parties must complete a two-step applications process:

Submit a one-page project summary on the Recovery Ohio Web site no later than 3 p.m. on Monday, August 16, 2010. Click on the “Submit Your Proposal” link in the “How To Apply” box.

Submit a proposal to the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio Energy Resources Division no later than 3 p.m. on Monday, August 23, 2010. The application forms can be found here.

The program will “leverage private investments in projects that will move forward and be completed within 12 months of the grant execution,” according to the Web site. A total of $10 million will be awarded through the program, with a minimum award of $500,000 per project and a maximum of $1 million per project.


 
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Aug 10, 2010

Ohio's Advanced Energy Fund in danger of expiring
 

The latest issue of EcoWatch Journal has an article detailing how Ohio's Advanced Energy fund is set to lose its funding on Dec. 31. It will take legislative action between now and then to extend its life. Since its inception in 1999, the Advanced Energy Fund has invested more than $50 million in some 620 advanced energy projects across Ohio.

 
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Aug 10, 2010

Deadline looming for some renewable and advanced energy projects seeking tax exemption
 

Some owners and lessees of renewable and advanced energy projects eligible for the tax exemption that went into effect with the enactment of Ohio Senate Bill 232 have until Monday, August 16, to notify the state of the project's production capacity. The deadline applies to all eligible projects completed before the effective date of S.B. 232, which was June 17. Projects that supplied energy before Dec. 31, 2009, are ineligible.  Applicants must complete the form found here and submit it to the Ohio Department of Development. The deadline to apply for certification as a qualified energy project entitled to the special tax treatment is Dec. 31, 2011, for energy projects using renewable energy resources; and Dec. 31, 2013, for energy projects using clean coal technology, advanced nuclear technology, or cogeneration technology.
 
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Aug 02, 2010

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA) is now hiring
 

There are currently two energy-related job openings at the GCEA that the group would like to fill. The jobs are:

Operations Director: The operations director will oversee the GCEA’s residential and commercial program delivery, and assist with workforce development and expansion opportunities in the commercial sector.

Marketing and Community Outreach Director: Primary responsibilities will involve educating the public about energy efficiency, and driving demand for energy services provided by residential and commercial contractors.

If you are interested in either of these positions, please click here for more information about the jobs and how to apply.


 
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Jul 30, 2010

Ohio House committee field hearing highlights challenges, opportunities for Ohio clean-energy industries
 

The Ohio House Alternative Energy Committee held a field hearing at the Hocking College Energy Institute in Logan, Ohio, on July 19. The testimony provided at the hearing provided a succinct overview of the renewable and advanced energy landscape in Ohio for anyone interested in the direction of the state's energy policy and economy. Individuals providing testimony included: Scott Miller, Director, Energy and Environmental Programs, Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs; Matthew Bennett, President, Dovetail Solar and Wind; Dr. Jerry Hutton, Dean, Hocking College Energy Institute;and Neill Lane, CEO, Global Cooling Inc.

 
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Jul 27, 2010

Green manufacturers scout Southwest Ohio
 

Dayton Daily News reported that local robotics producer Rixan Associates Inc. wants to manufacture hubless vertical wind turbines, but hasn’t decided where to build a production facility. The $4.1 million facility would employ about 200 people initially, making a wind turbine designed at St. Louis University, according to the article. The company president said Rixan has a “firm offer” from the North Dakota state government and expressions of interest from Ohio, Missouri, Michigan and others.
 
Meanwhile, courtesy of this article in the Cincinnati Business Courier, an unidentified Midwest manufacturer is scouting sites in greater Cincinnati for a factory that would be new to the region, turn out an unspecified green product and employ up to 150 people. The company toured about ten sites in the area last week, but also is considering sites in Indianapolis.
 
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Jul 07, 2010

Ohio House Alternative Energy Committee to hold Southeast Ohio meeting
 

The Ohio House of Representatives' Alternative Energy Committee, chaired by Rep. Ted Celeste, will hold a field hearing in Logan, Ohio, on Monday, July 19. The hearing will be held at the Hocking College Energy Institute at noon. The hearing will include panel testimony from, among others, Neill Lane, Chief Executive of Global Cooling, Inc, and Matt Bennett, President of Dovetail Solar and Wind. Individuals are also invited to give public testimony. For more information, contact Jeff Wise in Rep. Celeste’s office at 614.644.6005 or Jeffrey.Wise@ohr.state.oh.us.


 
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Jul 02, 2010

Debunking Some Common Green Myths
 

A Fortune magazine article takes on some of the myths that abound in the “going green” movement. “I’ll save energy if I keep my appliances turned off,” “Hybrids are much better for the environment than regular cars” and “Organic foods are processed without pesticides” are just some of the green myths recently explained. 

For example, you will save energy by keeping appliances turned off, but not as much as you think (only about 5% to 10%); the Lexus LS 600h L hybrid car has a combined fuel economy rating of only 21 mpg (just 17% above the conventional LS 460 L luxury sedan); and many pesticides are permitted in organic farming, including nicotine sulfate and lime sulfate, which come with a “danger” warning from the FDA but are permissible under organic farming guidelines.

For more information see www.fortune.com


 
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Jun 30, 2010

PACE Webinar to be held Wednesday, July 7th
 

Ohio Senate Bill 232 (SB 232) represents a major expansion of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) renewable and advanced energy financing opportunities in Ohio. Bricker & Eckler is offering a PACE Funding and Special Improvement District Law webinar on Wednesday, July 7th from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. The program will provide a comprehensive overview of the expanded PACE financing opportunities contained in SB 232, and will discuss how property owners can create special improvement districts in order to finance PACE projects in their communities. Click here for registration details.

Visit Bricker & Eckler's Energy SIDs and PACE Financing Resource Center.


 
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Jun 30, 2010

Governor to announce Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity in Toledo
 

Governor Ted Strickland will be in Toledo today with local officials to announce an Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity. The Ohio Hubs program leverages an area’s resources and investments to attract clusters of connected businesses, encourage new investments and an influx of talented workers, and create new opportunities to create jobs and develop Ohio’s key industries. The event will be held at 1:15 today at the University of Toledo's Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation.


 
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Jun 29, 2010

Creating 100% Biodegradable Plastics? It’s Not Such a Corny Idea