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  Energy Efficiency

Jul 07, 2014

FitzGerald proposes new energy policy for Ohio
 

Ed FitzGerald, Democratic candidate for Ohio Governor, rolled out his energy policy this week, highlighting the differences between his plan and both Governor Kasich’s policies and President Obama’s recently released carbon-emissions policy. Speaking of the president’s new plan in a Columbus Dispatch article, FitzGerald said, “if you’re going to take regulatory actions that are going to have a significant economic effect, you can’t leave the populations that are economically dependent on current industry hanging.” FitzGerald noted that he would attempt to steer new clean-energy industry in Ohio to those areas. The focus of his plan is the need to “reverse the Kasich administration’s energy policies such as Senate Bill 310, which…started a two-year freeze on annual increases in state standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency,” according to the Dispatch article (for more on SB 310, see our June 13, 2014 blog post). In the article, FitzGerald said, “Gov. Kasich is putting an enormous ‘you are not welcome’ sign on Ohio when it comes to a new energy economy. Ohio is not the place to go if you want to make a major investment in the new energy economy.” For more, read the full article.
 
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Jul 03, 2014

Mayor Coleman announces Columbus Energy Challenge
 

Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman recently announced a new program to promote energy efficiency within commercial buildings around the city, the Columbus Energy Challenge. In an interview with WOSU, the mayor described the free program as “an effort to save dollars and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy usage by 20 percent.” According to the program’s page on the City of Columbus website, the goal is “to have 70% of commercial and industrial buildings over 50,000 square feet registered in the program and a 20% reduction in building energy use by the year 2020.” The program provides participants with resources to save money by reducing energy usage. For more, listen to the interview here, or read about the program here.
 
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Jun 23, 2014

Green-energy supporters prepare to continue efforts despite losses
 

Renewable energy advocates are regrouping to figure out their next steps after two legislative setbacks, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Governor John Kasich recently signed Senate Bill 310 (SB 310), freezing renewable energy and energy efficiency standards for two years, and House Bill 483 (HB 483), which includes stricter regulations on wind turbine construction in Ohio. In the Dispatch article, Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, said, “We’re back being the underdog. Now, we’re going to have to fight back as best we can.” Energy consultant Mark Shanahan spoke at a recent Green Energy Ohio event to urge supporters not to give up. “We need to be actively involved because the facts are on our side. This is a debate about our future,” he said in the article. For more, read the full article.
 
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Jun 16, 2014

New PUCO chairman Tom Johnson ready for challenges
 

Tom Johnson has seen a lot of change since he became chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in April. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, and Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 310 (SB 310), freezing Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards for two years (see our June 5 blog post for more on these). In a Columbus Business First article, Johnson said of his new job, “We want to do the right thing….[w]hen you flip the switch for electric, you want the lights to come on,” and “[y]ou want to have it so the jobs industry wants to come to Ohio, stay in Ohio, provide jobs.” For more, read the full article
 
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Jun 13, 2014

Governor Kasich signs SB 310
 

Today, Governor Kasich signed Senate Bill 310 (SB 310), freezing Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards for two years (for more, read our May 12, 2014 blog post). During the two years, a committee will study the 2008 law that required electric utilities to obtain 12.5% of their electricity from renewable sources, among other conditions. Supporters of the bill, including many utility companies, argue that the bill will prevent higher costs due to the renewable and energy efficiency standards. Opponents state that SB 310 will make it harder for Ohio to meet the EPA’s recently proposed standards (for more on this, read our June 5, 2014 blog post).
 
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Jun 09, 2014

President Obama’s plan for 30% reduction in CO pollution may have huge impact on Ohio
 

Last week, as part of President Obama’s climate-change agenda, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal for states to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Columbus Dispatch reports that “the rules almost certainly would change how people power their lives in Ohio, where coal generates about two-thirds of electricity.” Columbus-based American Electric Power (AEP) has eight coal-fired power plants in Ohio, but may soon have far fewer. According to the Dispatch article, AEP “has said it plans to close three and is determining whether the proposed rules might force it to shut even more.” Opponents of the measure say the new proposal will eliminate jobs and raise energy costs. The Obama administration says the proposal will clean the air and promote better health in addition to curtailing climate change. For more, read the full article
 
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Jun 06, 2014

SB 310 on Governor Kasich’s desk for action
 

Senate Bill 310 (SB 310) was delivered to Governor Kasich on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. The bill has been the subject of much debate, with opponents and supporters of the bill strongly arguing their positions. SB 310 places a two-year freeze on annual increases in renewable and energy efficiency standards, holding them at the 2014 levels while a committee evaluates the costs and benefits of keeping the standards as they are currently in place versus adopting the revised standards. The bill also makes significant changes to the benchmarks after the two-year freeze, ending a requirement that utilities purchase at least half of their renewable energy from within the state. The governor has ten days to act on the bill — to either sign it into law or veto it. If he vetoes the bill, a three-fifths majority of the Ohio House and Senate members must vote to overturn the veto for it to become law. If the governor takes no action on the bill within ten days, it automatically becomes law.
 
For more on how SB 310 may impact Ohio, read our June 5 blog post.

 
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May 29, 2014

Ohio energy-mandates freeze clears House; Governor expected to sign
 

The Ohio House of Representatives passed Ohio Senate Bill 310 Wednesday, May 28, although most Ohioans “approved keeping the state’s standards, but were unaware that legislators were trying to change them,” according to a Columbus Business First article. The Columbus Dispatch reports today that Governor John Kasich plans to sign the bill, quoting his spokesman Rob Nichols as saying, “After a lot of hard work, we’ve got a solid plan to examine the progress Ohio has made while also holding onto that progress.” SB 310 places a two-year freeze on renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, and according to the Dispatch article, “makes major changes to the rules when they resume in 2017, ending a requirement that utilities purchase half of their renewable energy from within the state,” among other changes. In the article, Ohio Representative Peter Stautberg (R-Anderson Township) calls the current standards “not achievable or sustainable.” For more, read the complete Columbus Business First and Dispatch articles. 

 
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May 28, 2014

Ohio House vote set for SB 310 after last-minute alternatives denied
 

According to an article on Cleveland.com, the Ohio House of Representatives was expected to vote Wednesday, May 28, on Senate Bill 310, a bill that would freeze Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards for two years. The day before the expected vote, during the House Public Utilities Committee session, representative Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario) offered an amendment, and representative Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) attempted to replace the bill with an alternate version, according to an article in The Cincinnati Enquirer. Committee chair Peter Stautberg (R-Anderson Township), “said he wouldn’t allow the amendment. . . since it was submitted past the deadline” and ignored Duffey’s bill “’at the chair’s discretion’” according to the Enquirer article. The committee voted 13–9 to advance the bill. For more, read the full Cleveland.com and Enquirer articles.

 
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May 22, 2014

SB 310 delayed in Ohio House, new compromise proposed
 

Ohio Senate Bill 310 ran into a roadblock this week when Speaker William Batchelder declared that, “there were not enough votes to pass the legislation,” according to Cleveland.com. Opponents of the bill, including industrial, consumer and business groups, proposed a compromise that would keep prices lower for consumers and small businesses by requiring heavy industry to “bid their efficiency gains into an annual auction by the company that manages the grid in Ohio,” according to the Cleveland.com article. The Columbus Dispatch quoted Batchelder as saying the bill “needs a lot of study,” and after meeting with his members, he said, “People were uncomfortable, so they’re going to have the opportunity over the weekend (to review it). We’ll look forward to dealing with it next week.” For more, read the full articles at Cleveland.com and Dispatch.com.
 
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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 22, 2014

SB 310 could lead way for other states to loosen renewable energy standards
 

Ohio may soon be the first state to pass a measure lowering its renewable energy requirements, according to an article in The Columbus Dispatch. Kansas and several other states have introduced similar measures, but “none has had as much success as Ohio’s Senate Bill 310,” according to the article. “The Ohio bill would place a two-year freeze on annual increases in standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency,” the article said. Mike O’Neal, president and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, said, “I would tend to think that if there’s a state that pulls back successfully, that there will be more of an impetus to do that in other states.” For more, read the full article
 
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May 14, 2014

New report touts the benefits of Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws
 

A recent report released by the Environment America Research & Policy Center shows that Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency regulations cut the state's carbon pollution "by at least 4.7 million metric tons in 2012, an amount comparable to the annual emissions from nearly one million cars," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Of that total, the state's renewable energy standards have offset the equivalent carbon produced by 125,000 cars produced in a year, while the energy efficiency requirements offset the equivalent carbon produced by about 567,000 cars annually. The report comes at a time when Senate Republicans just last week passed a measure freezing these benchmarks at 2014 levels for two years (See our May 12, 2014, blog post for more information). For more, read the full report.
 
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May 12, 2014

Ohio Senate passes S.B. 310 to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks at 2014 levels for two years
 

On Thursday, May 8, 2014, the Ohio Senate passed legislation freezing the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks at 2014 levels for two years, The Columbus Dispatch reports. S.B. 310, which now heads to the House of Representatives, has the standards "automatically resume in 2017 and continue through 2027" should the legislature take no additional action. The two years are meant to allow time for a new legislative panel to study issues related to the standards. Ohio Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) introduced S.B. 310 in late March (See our May 5, 2014, blog post for more information). The original bill "called for a permanent freeze," but was changed to temporary following negotiations with Gov. John Kasich, 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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May 07, 2014

Kroger Co. announces its 500th store to earn the federal ENERGY STAR designation
 

The Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. grocery chain recently announced that one of its stores in Phoenix, Arizona, has become its 500th location to earn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's and the U.S. Department of Energy's ENERGY STAR designation, meaning it ranked in the top 25 percent of facilities in the nation for energy efficiency and performance, WCPO reports. The company said that since 2000, it has reduced its average grocery store electricity usage by over 34.3 percent by utilizing several practices, including employing technology such as LED lights, skylights and control systems – as well as "engaging store associates in energy savings initiatives." For more, read the full story and news release.

 
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May 05, 2014

S.B. 310 opponents ask the Ohio Senate to hold off on freezing the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks until a committee report is finished
 

Much of the debate over S.B. 310 – Ohio Sen. Troy Balderson's (R-Zanesville) proposal to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks at their 2014 levels – is reminiscent of the testimonies heard last year over Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) proposal to scale back the standards, S.B. 58. Some local government officials and representatives from industrial companies previously testified in support of S.B. 310, then last Wednesday "a score of witnesses...urged members not to pass the bill," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. During this hearing, the Ohio Consumers' Counsel and the Ohio Manufacturers' Association "asked the committee not to hold renewable and energy efficiency benchmarks at the current levels while a proposed study examines the issues." The groups are referring to a provision in S.B. 310 establishing a 21-member Energy Mandates Study Committee tasked with conducting a cost-benefit analysis on the effects of maintaining the standards versus the 2014 levels going forward (See our April 3, 2014, blog post for more information). Despite the opposition, Sen. Seitz said that "he hoped to amend and vote the measure out of committee next week," the article said.

 
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May 01, 2014

New survey from Advanced Energy Economy Ohio shows Ohio voters oppose bill to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks
 

The energy efficiency and renewable energy business association Ohio Advanced Energy Economy (Ohio AEE) recently released a poll that found that "72 percent of respondents believe the state should continue to replace traditional forms of energy, like coal, with renewable sources like wind and solar," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Based on "600 telephone interviews of Ohio voters," the survey is being touted as evidence that constituents do not agree with state Republicans' repeated attempts at scaling back, repealing and now freezing the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. The latest effort is S.B. 310, which Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) introduced in late March to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmark requirements at 2014 levels. Ohio AEE President and CEO Ted Ford said that S.B. 310 would "put at risk some 400 advanced energy companies employing 25,000 Ohioans," the article said.

 
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Apr 29, 2014

Mayors of Cleveland and Columbus come out in opposition to S.B. 310
 

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman have separately written letters asking Ohio lawmakers to oppose the recent effort to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks at 2014 levels, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The mayors are referring to S.B. 310, which Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) introduced in late March. The bill represents the latest in a string of efforts by Republicans in both the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives to repeal, scale back or freeze the two benchmarks (See our April 3, 2014, blog post – "Ohio Sen. Troy Balderson delivers sponsor testimony on his bill to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels"). For more, read the full story.

 
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Apr 21, 2014

Columbus ranks 25th on U.S. EPA's Energy Star list for certified green buildings
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) annual Energy Star list, which ranks cities across the country according to the number of certified green buildings they have, lists Ohio 21st this year, according to The Hannah Report. The list uses Energy Star certification. In order for a building to achieve this, it must "demonstrate more energy efficiency than similar buildings nationwide." Columbus had 77 Energy Star buildings in 2013, which the EPA estimates "represent an annual cost saving of $11.6 million, and their use prevented the equivalent electricity use emissions of 12,100 homes," the article said. Ohio's energy efficiency certifications have been a driving force behind the investment in the construction of these buildings. However, Ohio Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 in November to urge state agencies to use standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) instead of the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) v4 standards. Supporters of the resolution argue that the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has strayed from its original focus on energy efficiency to outright banning certain products due to unfounded toxicity claims. It passed the Senate last month, but now Sen. Uecker has requested that the House wait until after summer break to consider the bill (See our March 31, 2014, blog post for more information). For more, read the full news release.

 
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Apr 10, 2014

11 major Ohio manufacturers oppose freezing the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements
 

Eleven large Ohio manufacturers sent a letter to Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) this week opposing S.B. 310, which would freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements at 2014 levels, Columbus Business First reports (See our April 3, 2014, blog post for more information). The group, which includes Honda of America Manufacturing, Honeywell International Inc. and Whirpool Corp., is specifically supportive of the energy efficiency component, saying in the letter that the programs provide a "low-cost strategy for keeping utility costs under control and providing protection against price volatility, which enhances competitiveness for our companies," the article said. For more, read the full story.

 
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Apr 08, 2014

U.S. EPA unveils new tool to quantify the emissions impacts of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a new tool through its State and Local Climate and Energy Program that estimates the emissions benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RE) policies and programs. The number of states with such policies continues to grow, but "quantifying the emissions impacts of these policies and programs can be challenging." The free AVoided Emissions and GeneRation Tool (AVERT) enables non-expert users to utilize publicly available information to easily "evaluate county-level emissions displaced at electric plants by EE/RE policies and programs." Such a tool could be useful for Ohio, where the fate and value of the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs is currently the topic of heated debate (See our March 28, 2014, blog post for more information). For more, access AVERT.

 
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Apr 03, 2014

Ohio Sen. Troy Balderson delivers sponsor testimony on his bill to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels
 

Last Friday, Ohio Senate Republicans introduced S.B. 310 to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels (See our March 28, 2014, blog post for more information). Then, on Wednesday, Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) delivered sponsor testimony on the bill before the Senate Public Utilities Committee. Sen. Balderson said that the measure would "prevent electricity bills from continuing to rise," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) came out in support of the bill, saying that he expected it to pass the House quickly "after two or three hearings."  In addition to freezing the "current level of 2.5 percent of all the kilowatt hours of electricity that utilities sold, with 0.12 percent of that coming from solar energy resources and at least half of the total coming from facilities within the state," S.B. 310 proposes to require the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to adopt rules outlining "how it will disclose the costs of the standards on customers' utility bills." It would also establish a 21-member Energy Mandates Study Committee "consisting of various interest groups affected by the requirements [who would be] tasked with conducting a cost-benefit analysis on the effects of maintaining the standards in current law versus the 2014 levels going forward," the article said.


 
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Apr 02, 2014

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence pushes for a new energy efficiency program to replace the one he just let get repealed
 

Last Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence allowed legislation to become law that eliminates the state's energy efficiency program – Energizing Indiana, Indiana Public Media reports. The bill started as a simple industrial opt-out provision but rapidly morphed into a complete repeal of the program (See our March 13, 2014, blog post – "Bill to repeal Indiana's energy efficiency resource standard reaches the governor's desk"). The governor said that he is devoted to energy efficiency, but had concerns about "rising energy costs for businesses and the impact on job creation." Since the legislation "bars the Pence administration from creating a replacement" program on its own, the governor has "directed the Utility Regulatory Commission to begin crafting a proposal for a new program he can take to the legislature next year," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 31, 2014

Ohio Sen. Joe Uecker asks the House to delay anti-LEED hearings until the fall
 

Ohio Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland), who introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 in November to urge "state agencies to follow efficient building standards set by the American National Standards Institute [ANSI] instead of those from the U.S. Green Building Council [USGBC]," has asked the chairman of the House Manufacturing and Workforce Development Committee to "delay consideration of the bill until the fall," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. SCR 25 aims to replace USGBC's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) v4 standards in favor of ANSI because v4 "discourages use of safe building materials, such as certain paints and vinyls" (See our Feb 27, 2014, blog post for more information). The resolution passed the Senate 22-10, but now Sen. Uecker says he wants the House to wait until after summer break so that the industry witnesses and proponents of the bill are "able to testify in a jointed as opposed to a disjointed manner," the article said.


 
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Mar 28, 2014

Ohio Senate Republicans will introduce a bill today to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels
 

As rumored earlier this week, a bill is expected to be introduced in the Ohio Senate today that would freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels indefinitely, Columbus Business First reports (See our March 26, 2014, blog post for more information). Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) will introduce the bill. A concurrent House bill is also expected today, the article said. In addition to freezing the benchmarks, the bill would "create a 20-person study group consisting of 10 legislators and 10 people 'from interested and impacted areas, including customers,'" to research the impact of the benchmarks. For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 26, 2014

Ohio Senate Republicans plan to introduce a bill this week that would freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks
 

Ohio Senate Republicans are rumored to be preparing a bill for introduction as early as this week that would freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks, Columbus Business First and The Columbus Dispatch report. Details are scarce, but it does appear that while Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) is "involved in the bill's process," he does not plan to introduce the bill himself, The Dispatch reports. The effort follows nearly a year's worth of hearings and work in the Statehouse on S.B. 58 – a proposal to scale back the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards that lost significant momentum after the bill's sponsor, Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), called off a final hearing and vote in December (See our Feb 6, 2014, blog post for more information). The new bill also joins S.B. 34 – a proposal Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) first introduced in February 2013 to repeal the renewable energy requirement completely that received its second hearing earlier this year.


 
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Mar 17, 2014

Ohio University to host free webinar on changes in Ohio's electricity market
 

The Consortium for Energy, Economics & the Environment (CE3) at Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs recently announced that it will be hosting its next energy webinar, titled "Changes in Ohio's Electricity Market–Prospects for 2014," on Tuesday, March 25th. Experts will discuss the many factors that are shaping Ohio's energy market today and what Ohio energy users might expect to see unfold in 2014. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required as seating is limited. For more, including registration information, view the event flyer.


 
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Mar 13, 2014

Bill to repeal Indiana's energy efficiency resource standard reaches the governor's desk
 

A bill in the Indiana General Assembly that began simply as an industrial opt-out and then morphed into a complete repeal of the state's energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) has made its way Gov. Mike Pence's desk to be signed into law, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The bill would eliminate the existing EERS and, at the end of 2014, terminate "all existing ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs." Despite rumors that he is "not enthusiastic about the expanded scope of the bill," Gov. Pence, a Republican, is not expected to veto the bill since a Republican-controlled legislature passed it by wide margins, the article said. Unlike other energy standards, Indiana's was not established by the legislature, but by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). As a result, opponents of the EERS have expressed concern over "turf" issues since it was enacted in 2009. For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 12, 2014

New report from national mayors group urges a renewal of federal funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant
 

The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently released a report lauding the successful results of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program as a means to call on the federal government to renew EECBG funding, Midwest Energy News reports. Created by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and funded for five years as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the EECBG "provided $2.7 billion for energy efficiency and conservation initiatives to cities larger than 35,000 people, counties larger than 200,000 and tribal governments, along with giving money to states to distribute to municipalities." The group surveyed 204 city mayors for its report, which concluded that "local partnerships with the federal government on efficiency and renewable energy projects have plummeted" dramatically since funding ran out. The report also described in detail the savings municipalities have experienced as a result of the funding, as well as examples of the different projects undertaken. For more, read the full story and report.


 
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Mar 12, 2014

Bricker & Eckler associate Dylan Borchers will discuss PACE financing at a Green Energy Ohio workshop in Dayton on March 14th
 

The nonprofit organization Green Energy Ohio will host a business-to-business workshop on energy efficiency on Friday, March 14th at the Dayton Convention Center. "Financing Ohio Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Projects" will feature 32 experts discussing the latest methods and incentives for financing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Ohio. Bricker & Eckler associate Dylan Borchers will be presenting on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. For more, including registration information, visit the event website.


 
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Mar 11, 2014

Solar cell constructed in Perrysburg set a world record for conversion efficiency
 

Arizona-based First Solar, Inc. announced recently that it set a world record for cadmium-telluride photovoltaic solar cell conversion efficiency, "achieving 20.4 percent conversion efficiency certified at the Newport Corporation's Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab and confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)." The cell that set the record was constructed at the company's factory and Research & Development Center in Perrysburg, Ohio. For more, read the full news release.


 
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Mar 10, 2014

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz touts a new, industry-backed report to garner support for his recently reintroduced S.B. 58
 

After calling off a vote on Sub. S.B. 58 last December, the bill's sponsor, Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) recently reintroduced the bill and is backing it up with what he describes as a "devastating testimony" from the author of an "industry-sponsored study that refuted a previous study that found flaws in Seitz's bill," Columbus Business First reports (See our March 7, 2014, blog post for more information). Jonathan Lesser, president of Continental Economics Inc., determined in his report that Ohio's energy efficiency mandates have high costs and negligible benefits, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Sen. Seitz insists that an Advanced Energy Economy report made inaccurate economic projections about the state's energy standards during hearings on the bill in 2013. Lesser's report, which was cosponsored by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business-Ohio and Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, determined that monthly fees in electricity bills and equivalent charges for other utilities across the state "add up to more than $1 billion across the state since the rules took effect in 2009," The Dispatch reports. For more, read the full report.


 
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Mar 07, 2014

Impact reports for energy efficiency differ greatly as Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz renews hearings on S.B. 58
 

As the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee continues to hear witness testimony regarding S.B. 34, which is a proposal to completely repeal the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, the business group Ohioans for Sustainable Jobs released a study last week "asserting the electric bill increases caused by energy efficiency requirements are at least five to 10 times greater than any possible benefits to Ohio customers," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report (See our Feb 21, 2014, blog post for more information). Economic Jonathan Lesser authored the study, "Ohio's Electricity Usage Reduction Mandate: The 'Free Lunch' Paid for by Ohio Consumers," which Sen. Seitz has said he thinks will settle the energy efficiency cost debate once and for all.

Late last month, Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who chairs the Senate Public Utilities Committee, held the first hearings on S.B. 58 since he canceled a vote on it in December and started proponent testimony on S.B. 34, which Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) first introduced in February 2013. During the committee hearing, "several witnesses who already testified on the bill during previous hearings" delivered proponent testimony, Gongwer reports. These witnesses were: Kevon Martis, Interstate Concerned Citizens; Stephen Lesser and Kevin Murray, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio; Kevin Murray, Industrial Energy Users-Ohio; Michael Jones, University of Cincinnati's Economic Center; George Taylor, Silicon Valley engineer and entrepreneur.

At the same time, recent electricity reports in the Midwest are being touted as "evidence that state efficiency programs and technological advances are paying dividends in the region and fundamentally altering the landscape for utilities, regulators and consumers," E&E Publishing, LLC reports. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.'s (MISO) North and Central regions recently forecast a 0.75 percent reduction in annual electricity demand, compared with its previous long-term reliability assessment pegging it at a 0.8 percent growth rate. In addition, Excel Energy Inc. "saw a 0.8 percent drop in weather-adjusted electric sales for its Minnesota service territory last year" based on the company's assumed 2.3 percent economic growth. For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 27, 2014

Ohio Senate adopts resolution urging all state and local government agencies to ban LEED v4 standards
 

Yesterday, the Ohio Senate adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 by a 22-10 vote. Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) introduced S.C.R. 25 in November to stop Ohio's state agencies and government entities from using the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (USGBC LEED) v4 green building system. Supporters of the resolution argue that the USGBC has strayed from its original focus on energy efficiency to outright banning certain products due to unfounded toxicity claims (See our Feb 5, 2014, blog post for more information). Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) proposed an amendment to remove references to LEED v4, but it was tabled on a 22-10 vote, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report.


 
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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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Feb 07, 2014

Record number of energy leaders attend the MEEA 2014 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference
 

The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) recently reported that its 2014 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference in January saw a "record 630 energy leaders from nearly 250 organizations." The event focused on future policies and programs that will "generate additional energy savings and increase energy efficiency investments in the Midwest." Keynote speakers discussed the needs of the energy efficiency industry, new standards and technologies to improve energy savings and different utility incentive structures to support energy efficiency programs across the Midwest. For more, visit the event website.


 
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Feb 06, 2014

Ohio Republican leaders are considering breaking up parts of Sub. S.B. 58 into separate legislation
 

Since Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) canceled a Public Utilities Committee vote on Sub. S.B. 58 – his effort to significantly scale back and revise the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards – in December 2013, Republicans have been debating how best to move forward with addressing their concerns regarding the cost of the energy efficiency and renewable energy benchmark requirements, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Hearings are ongoing for S.B. 34, which Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) introduced in February 2013 to completely repeal the requirement that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide 25 percent of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025 (See our Feb 1, 2014, blog post – "Ohio Senate committee hears witnesses support the repeal of the state's renewable energy requirement"). However, some Republicans at the Statehouse have expressed doubt that this legislation could pass. Instead Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) is considering returning to the original proposal to impose a moratorium "on increasingly stringent energy efficiency standards," despite the intense opposition this idea was rejected under two years ago. Sens. Frank LaRose (R-Copley Twp.) and Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) have discussed introducing "an easier way for large industrial customers to opt-out of paying energy efficiency riders," but some contest that "[r]equiring ratepayers to opt-in to paying riders that fund energy efficiency programs would raise the cost of power to everybody in the state," the article said.


 
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Feb 05, 2014

Senate hearing addresses resolution to forbid LEED v4 standards in favor of ANSI
 

On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee heard witnesses oppose Senate Concurrent Resolution 25, which Sens. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) and Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) introduced in November to stop Ohio's state agencies and government entities from using the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (USGBC LEED) v4 green building system. Supporters of the resolution argue that the USGBC has strayed from its original focus on energy efficiency to outright banning certain products due to unfounded toxicity claims (See our Dec 13, 2013, blog post – "U.S. chemical companies push for anti-LEED legislation at the state and federal level"). Opponents "vehemently denied the existence of a 'blacklist' of building materials," claiming that "thousands of member organizations ultimately voted on the final version" following "extensive public input on the drafts." S.C.R. 25 would instead "urge state agencies to follow efficient building standards" set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).


 
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Feb 02, 2014

Two investment firms launch separate $100 million funds to finance energy efficiency projects
 

The back-to-back announcements that two organizations – Joule Assets, Inc. and Kilowatt Financial – are launching separate $100 million funds for energy efficiency projects is an encouraging development for alternative energy finance, Greentech Media reports. Leading clean energy consumer finance company Kilowatt Financial's program will enable U.S. homeowners "to make energy efficient improvements to their home through 10-12 year unsecured loans of up to $30,000," The Wall Street Journal reports. Described as a "landmark transaction," the arrangement with Citi is designed to "facilitate a securitization of the pool of loans into the capital markets, and thereby help establish a secondary market and scale energy efficiency activity," the article said. In addition, power-reduction project financing company Joule Assets established the Energy Reduction Assets Fund, which will "aggregate portfolios of projects using software that identifies values and risks without having to negotiate with every individual contractor," according to Greentech Media. For more information, read this recent Bricker & Eckler publication on new vehicles for renewable energy project financing.


 
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Feb 01, 2014

Ohio Senate committee hears witnesses support the repeal of the state's renewable energy requirement
 

In the last two weeks, the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee has held two hearings on S.B. 34, which Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) introduced in February 2013 to repeal the requirement that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide 25 percent of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025. On Wednesday, January 22, witness testified in opposition to wind power development, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Residents expressed frustration over the lawsuits and "devastated social relationships" that have occurred as a result of wind power development in rural communities. Kevon Martis, director of the Interstate Informed Citizen's Coalition, said that the renewable energy requirement was established before Ohio's shale boom drove down the price of natural gas, and that combined cycle gas generators could have generated 750 megawatts using the $750 million spent on wind development in Ohio, compared to wind development's 84 megawatts.

During the bill's third hearing on Wednesday, January 29, additional witnesses testified in support of repealing the requirement, generally touting other technologies that they regard as smarter investments. Paul Morrow of the Freedom Institute of Erie County disputed evidence supporting global warming, arguing that renewable energy mandates "impede market investment in other technologies, like energy from thorium and molten salts reactors and new coal technology," the article said.

Witness who testified on Wednesday, January 22:

  • Gary Biglin, Shelby Resident
  • Terrilee Doenges, Auglaize Neighbors United
  • Julia Johnson, Urbana Resident
  • Kevon Martis, Interstate Informed Citizen's Coalition
  • Ed Rogers, Hardin County resident
  • Diana Sheperd, Harden County resident

Witness who testified on Wednesday, January 29:
  • Jon Paul Morrow, Freedom Institute of Erie County
  • William Thesling, Energy From Thorium Foundation
  • Milo Schaffner, Hoaglin Township trustee


 
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Jan 31, 2014

PUCO issues staff proposed revisions to Ohio's energy efficiency program and its alternative energy portfolio standard
 

Yesterday, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) issued staff proposed revisions to Chapters 39 and 40 of the Ohio Administrative Code addressing the state's energy efficiency program and its alternative energy portfolio standard (AEPS) rules, respectively. The PUCO provided a summary of what it considers "some of the more substantial proposed changes," which are listed below.

Energy Efficiency

  • Inclusion of combined heat and power (CHP) and waste energy recovery (WER) under SB 315
  • Changes to incorporate the Mercantile Customer (EEC) Program as directed by the Commission’s July 17, 2013 Finding and Order in case 10-834-EL-EEC
  • Changes to reporting times and procedures to minimize the expense for all stakeholders in the administrative review process for each electric utility’s energy efficiency and peak demand reduction (EEDR) portfolios to meet the requirements of R.C. 4928.66
  • Procedure for updating the Draft Technical Resource Manual (TRM)
  • Application templates to be used for CHP/WER applications, annual updates for behavior projects, and ongoing EE/PDR rider exemptions (EEC) have been attached to the proposed rule changes
Alternative Energy
  • Revisions to the lists of eligible renewable energy resources and advanced energy resources to reflect changes from Substitute Senate Bill 315, including the addition of waste energy recovery systems to the list of eligible renewable energy resources
  • Removal of requirement for long-term compliance planning filing from 4901:1-40-03
  • Changing facility certification auto approval process from 60 days to 30 days
  • Changing the REC life to five years from point of creation by attribute tracking system
  • Including specific minimum content requirements for the annual compliance status report filings
  • Addressing question of confidentiality for the annual compliance status report filing
  • Significant revisions to the rule (4901:1-40-07) addressing the cost cap, with proposed changes to incorporate the general methodology accepted by the Commission in Case 11-5201-EL-RDR
The draft rules, which "include changes resulting from the passage of Sub. S.B. 315," can be accessed through the Commission docket in case numbers 13-0651-EL-ORD (Energy Efficiency) and 13-0652-EL-ORD (AEPS) (See our July 10, 2013, blog post for more information). Initial comments are due in each case by February 28, 2014, with reply comments due no later than March 14, 2014.


 
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Jan 30, 2014

PUCO releases its first report assessing the cost of complying with the state's renewable energy standards
 

On Monday, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) staff released the first draft report detailing how much Ohio's four investor-owned electric distribution utilities (EDUs) and its competitive electric retail service (CRES) providers paid in 2012 to comply with the state's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), which features annual benchmarks toward the overall requirement that 12.5 percent of the state's electricity supply come from renewable sources by 2025, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. According to the report, "[t]he figures for non-solar compliance, representing the total renewable requirement net of the specific solar requirement, show a total compliance obligation of approximately 1.9 million megawatt hours (MWhs) for 2012. Compliance with that figure fell just short of compliance, with 99.8 percent of the necessary RECs having been retired to satisfy the aggregate 2012 compliance obligation." All four EDUs met the benchmark for 2012, which required 1.5 percent to come from renewable energy resources, including 0.06 percent from solar energy resources and 1.44 percent from non-solar energy resources. However, CRES providers "came up a little short of their compliance targets, which PUCO staff said was likely because many of the new companies entering Ohio's market were unfamiliar with the law," the article said. EDUs paid an average of $24.93 for out-of-state renewable energy credits (RECs), while paying $33.51 for in-state RECs. EDUs paid an average of $58.75 for out-of-state solar RECs (SRECs), and $212.23 for Ohio-based SRECs. Based on several impediments noted in the 2012 compliance status reports, the PUCO staff recommended that companies be allowed to "switch to an obligation based upon actual load in the given compliance year."

The comprehensive report features a wealth of data, including the following statistics:

2012 EDU & CRES Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resource (In-State)
45 percent – biomass
37 percent – wind
15 percent – hydro
3 percent – coal mine methane (CMM)

2012 CRES Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resource (In-State)

72 percent – biomass
24 percent – hydro
4 percent – wind
0.44 percent – CMM

2012 EDU Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resource (In-State)

53 percent – wind
32 percent – biomass
11 percent – hydro
4 percent – CMM

2012 EDU and CRES Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resources (Out of State)
55 percent – wind
26 percent – biomass
19 percent – hydro

2012 CRES Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resource (Out of State)

72 percent – wind
21 percent – biomass
7 percent – hydro

2012 EDU Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resource (Out of State)
61 percent – wind
34 percent – biomass
5 percent – hydro

2012 Out of State Solar Resources Used for Compliance (by State)
99 percent – Pennsylvania
0.93 percent – West Virginia
0.27 percent – Kentucky
0.20 percent – Indiana


 
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Jan 29, 2014

Ohio Republicans debate their next move regarding the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards
 

Although the Ohio Statehouse spent a significant amount of time devising and debating Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) effort to significantly scale back and revise the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, Sub. S.B. 58 has existed in limbo since the senator canceled a committee vote on it in December (See our Dec 6, 2013, blog post – "Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz outlines a new, three-pronged strategy to take down the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements after putting Sub. S.B. 58 on indefinite hiatus"). Sen. Seitz maintains that he had enough votes for it to pass, but that he "agreed to hold off and allow more time to let the full chamber review the issues." Despite this, the Senate recently held a second hearing on S.B. 34, which Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) introduced to repeal the renewable energy requirement completely. Sen. Frank LaRose, vice chairman of the Senate Public Utilities Committee, said that he did not believe that either bill had enough support to pass the Senate, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Sen. LaRose is considering non-competitive legislation that would break up some of the less controversial parts of Sub. S.B. 58, but said that he wants to work with Sen. Seitz, who chairs the committee. Sen. Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) said he would specifically like to introduce a bill salvaging the industrial opt-out proposal, but said he has yet to introduce legislation "due to a lack of agreement on how to implement the details of an industrial opt-out," the article said.


 
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Dec 30, 2013

Federal report on the nation's energy outlook focuses on natural gas production, energy efficiency and non-hydropower renewable generation
 

Growing domestic natural gas production will cause the greatest changes in the country's energy outlook in the decades to come, but key results from the "Annual Energy Outlook 2014 Early Release Reference Case," which the U.S. Energy Information Administration released last week, also indicate that improved efficiency of energy use and a shift away from carbon-intensive fuels will keep U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions below their 2005 level through 2040. Also, although growth in electricity use is projected to slow down from 2012 to 2014, there will still be an increase of 28 percent. During that same time, a diversity of electricity sources will generally shift to lower-carbon options, led by growth in natural gas and renewable generation. Non-hydropower renewable generation will more than double, with wind projected to reach more than 600 kW hours per year in 2040. For more, read the full report.


 
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Dec 24, 2013

Michigan and Ohio partner to develop energy and energy efficiency technologies
 

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) recently announced that the energy offices in Michigan and Ohio have partnered to "help manufacturers in both states develop technology, design product prototypes, improve manufacturing processes and assess opportunities in the energy market," Columbus Business First reports. Named the the Michigan-Northeastern Ohio Regional Clean Energy Roadmap Project, the partnership is funded with $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy and $302,500 from the states. In addition, the project includes a plan to analyze "the strengths and weaknesses of energy efficiency companies in Michigan and northeast Ohio," the article said. For more, read the full story and MEDC press release.


 
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Dec 18, 2013

Monroe Central High School becomes the 100th public education facility in Ohio to achieve an LEED certification
 

The Ohio School Facilities Commission recently announced that Monroe Central High School's achievement of silver LEED makes it the 100th public education facility in Ohio to achieve an LEED certification. With "more than 300 total schools either registered or certified" through the U.S. Green Building Council's (USBG) LEED rating system, Ohio is recognized nationwide as a "leader in sustainable school design." Combined, the 100 schools "have been obtaining 35 percent of their material from regional sources" with 22 percent of materials containing recycled content. In addition, these schools have diverted "over 188,114 tons and 57,000 cubic yards of construction waste from Ohio landfills." The announcement comes at the same time that these standards for environmentally friendly construction are coming under attack from legislators and lobbyists who disagree with some of the USBG's standards regarding product toxicity (See our Dec 13, 2013, blog post – "U.S. chemical companies push for anti-LEED legislation at the state and federal level"). For more, read the full news release.


 
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Dec 13, 2013

U.S. chemical companies push for anti-LEED legislation at the state and federal level
 

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards have over the years become the de facto leader in environmentally friendly building practices, but now a "coalition of U.S. chemical companies calling itself the American High Performance Building Coalition" is leading the charge to ban these standards at the state and federal level, Columbus Business First reports. Opponents of LEED say the group that established them, the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, has a monopoly on such standards and that the organization has moved from focusing on energy efficiency to outright banning certain products due to unfounded toxicity claims.

Ohio is the latest state to see anti-LEED legislation, following North Carolina and Florida, according to The Associated Press (See our Nov 15, 2013, blog post – "Two Ohio senators introduce S.C.R. 25 to ban LEED certification in all public construction"). In addition, "efforts are underway to ask Congress to ban the use of LEED in federal construction projects, and executive orders and amendments in several states – including Maine, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama – have essentially banned LEED in state construction." Many of the anti-LEED bills and amendments don't mention the standards by name, but instead "ban ratings systems that they say discriminate against American wood products," which LEED does through its "single, stringent forest-certification system," according to the AP. For more, read the full Columbus Business First and Associated Press stories.


 
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Dec 10, 2013

President Obama directs the federal government to use 20 percent renewable energy by 2020
 

On Thursday, President Obama issued a presidential memorandum directing the heads of all federal executive departments and agencies to work so that by fiscal year 2020, 20 percent of the total amount of electricity consumed by each agency during each fiscal year comes from renewable energy. The memorandum, which includes an interim target of 10 percent by 2015, "represents a follow-through on the president's plan to counter climate change," which he announced in June, North American Windpower reports (See our June 29, 2013, blog post – "President Obama's climate change action plan calls for more renewable energy and energy efficiency"). The president also outlined methods for increasing energy efficiency; however, all of his directives were tempered by language that requires such efforts only so long as they are "practical, economical and technically feasible," the article said. For more, read the full story and presidential memorandum.


 
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Dec 09, 2013

PUCO approves two utilities' three-year energy efficiency compliance plans
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently signed off on three-year energy efficiency compliance plans for Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) and Duke Energy that opponents of the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements were hoping would be rendered moot with the passage of Sub. S.B 58, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), the driving force behind the effort to scale back these requirements, canceled a vote on the bill last Wednesday just hours before the PUCO approved the plans. That same day, Seitz announced a new strategy that involves challenging the constitutionality of the in-state purchase requirement in court (See our Dec 6, 2013, blog post for more information). Environmental advocates and other interested parties say the approval of these plans demonstrates that "the state's clean energy law works" and that the utilities' plans will save customers money, the article said. For more, read the agreements for DP&L and Duke Energy.


 
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Dec 06, 2013

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz outlines a new, three-pronged strategy to take down the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements after putting Sub. S.B. 58 on indefinite hiatus
 

Now that Sub. S.B. 58 is on indefinite hiatus, attention is turning toward Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) – the driving force behind the bill – and his new strategy to weaken the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. Although the senator said that the cancellation of the vote on Wednesday occurred only because there were too many revisions and amendments added to the bill for the House to consider before the end of the year, he outlined a three-pronged strategy to "reform current 'envirosocialist' mandates that have afflicted Ohio ratepayers through hidden charges and fees on their electric bills," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report.

In addition to continuing to "work with parties who have acted honestly and in good faith to find compromise that will facilitate passage of S.B. 58," Seitz said the Senate Public Utilities Committee, which he chairs, will commence extensive hearings on S.B. 34 – Sen. Kris Jordan's (R-Ostrander) proposal to completely repeal the requirement that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide 25 percent of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025. Jordan delivered sponsor testimony of S.B. 34, which was first introduced in February, during the Sub. S.B. 58 hearings held on Wednesday, October 9th. Seitz said many in the House pressured him to "simply end the mandates now" since "an orderly transition from the current central government planning model to free markets" proved inordinately difficult, the article said.

Finally, Seitz plans to challenge in court the mandate that 12.5 percent of the renewable energy requirement comes from in-state sources, which he has long described as unconstitutional (See our Nov 26, 2013, blog post for more information). The senator said that "California, Massachusetts and Minnesota have abandoned their in-state mandates in recognition of the constitutional problem," with lawsuits challenging similar requirements currently pending in Colorado and North Dakota. In particular, Seitz is relying on a federal circuit court of appeals opinion delivered in June that said Michigan's in-state mandate "faced an insurmountable obstacle under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution," the article said.
 
In the case, Illinois Commerce Commission v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 11-3421, et al. (7th Cir. June 7, 2013), attorneys for the State of Michigan, DTE Energy and Consumer Energy were originally trying to be exempt from "paying a share of the cost of the transmission facilities" due to the state's in-state renewable energy production mandate, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential. Based on their argument, Judge Richard Posner wrote, "Michigan cannot, without violating the commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution, discriminate against out-of-state renewable energy." Since the state's renewable energy requirements were not the matter put before the court, the judge's dicta opinion stands as editorializing and "does not overturn any part of the Michigan law." Regardless, his statement "could lead to challenges of similar requirements that artificially favor in-state renewable energy producers in other states as well," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 04, 2013

Sen. Seitz cancels Sub. S.B. 58 hearing and vote, creating uncertainty for the future of attempted repeals
 

After being delayed once late last month, the highly anticipated final hearing and vote on Sub. S.B. 58, which is Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) attempt to scale back the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws, were canceled for today, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report (See our Nov 26, 2013, blog post for more information). Seitz, who chairs the Senate Public Utilities Committee, outlined a new strategy for achieving his goals that involves "litigation to challenge the in-state requirement for renewable energy and to resume hearings on Sen. Kris Jordan's (R-Ostrander) legislation [S.B. 34] that would eliminate the clean energy law entirely."


 
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Nov 26, 2013

Final version of Sub. S.B. 58 delayed in an effort to improve its language
 

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said yesterday that the final hearing and vote on Sub. S.B. 58, the highly contentious effort to scale back Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws, was not canceled last Wednesday due to political pressure, but to allow the legislature time to make sure that the legislation is drafted exactly as intended, The Plain Dealer reports (See our Nov 14, 2013, blog post for more information). As a result, "the bill will not show up in the utilities committee until Dec. 4 at the earliest," meaning Seitz's previously stated goal to "get the legislation through the Senate before the end of the year" is unlikely to be met. Although the bill might not be available until then, Seitz did outline the main points of what he considers a reasonable compromise:

  • The requirement that 12.5 percent of the power that utilities sell in the state must be produced from renewable sources by 2025 would remain completely intact; however, the requirement that Ohio-based wind farms supply half of the state's renewable power by 2025, which Seitz considers unconstitutional, would only remain in place until 2016. After that date, "power from Ohio wind farms get a slight preference under Ohio's Buy Ohio law, in which Ohio products are chosen over out-of-state if they are no more than five percent more costly."
  • In an effort to allow out-of-state wind energy that is "actually 'deliverable,'" the final legislation is expected to delete language allowing allowing Ohio utilities to fulfill renewable energy requirements by purchasing Canadian hydropower, and replace it with language allowing utilities to "purchase wind power from anywhere within the power grid managed by Philadelphia-based PJM Interconnection."
  • The amount of bonuses that utilities can reward to themselves for meeting energy efficiency requirements and assisting customers with energy efficiency measures would be capped at this year's rate, a step back from the original substitute bill, which would have allowed utilities to pay themselves "a bonus of up to 33 percent of the value of the efficiency upgrades" they helped customers put in place.
  • What utilities are allowed to count toward their energy efficiency requirements would be expanded to include "improvements in efficiency they made to their distribution lines... and to their power plants."
  • Major power users would be able to opt out of the energy efficiency requirements so that they "don't have to pay the rate increases the utilities charge customers to pay for such programs." Also, the amount utilities can spend on these programs would be capped at this year's rate, and possibly "spread further to include smaller companies" to compensate for the money lost from excluding the larger power consumers.
  • "The solar 'cut-out' for renewable energy, 0.5 percent of all power sold," would remain in place.
  • The way industrial power use is calculated would be altered, and their consumption would not count toward the state's total consumption rate. As a result, this "would make it easier for the electric utilities to reduce total consumption of power by 22 percent by 2025."
For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 21, 2013

Former PUCO commissioner describes Sub. S.B. 58 as a boon for electric companies wanting to sell more electricity
 

Testifying on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund, former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) member Cheryl Roberto said during the Sub. S.B. 58 hearings that utilities sharing "senior management, investors and a board of directors with their affiliate competitive generation company and their affiliate federally regulated transmission company" is a corporate structure that "creates inherent and insurmountable conflicting mixed economic incentives," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Instead of functioning as "unbiased energy service procurement agents on behalf of the customer," unregulated generating affiliates "depend on perpetuating consumption of existing fossil-fueled electricity." FirstEnergy Corp., which is leading the charge to scale back the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, has "acknowledged that its competitive energy services segment derives its revenue from the sale of generation which is exposed to market risk, including energy efficiency and demand response," according to her testimony.


 
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Nov 19, 2013

Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws: the evolution of Sub. S.B. 58
 


 
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Nov 14, 2013

Sub. S.B. 58 debate turns from energy efficiency mandates to wind energy costs
 

Wind energy costs took center stage yesterday in the continuing debate over Sub. S.B. 58, which is Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) attempt to scale back the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements so that utilities can more easily achieve compliance, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report (See our Nov 7, 2013, blog post for more information). Proponents of the bill testified before public utilities committees in both the House and the Senate, the former of which is discussing H.B. 302 – a non-competitive, companion bill introduced last month to prepare the House for the coming Sub. S.B. 58 debate. Proponents described how hidden wind energy costs burden consumers, while several out-of-state witnesses "testified in support of the provision to eliminate" the in-state requirement for purchasing renewable energy and "to allow Canadian hydroelectric power to qualify." Representatives from the wind industry delivered opposition testimony in the Senate. Testifying in support of the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements, they disputed analyses presented by the supporting witnesses and offered data that contradicted their "false and misleading claims." As provided by Sen. Seitz's office, below is a list of individuals who testified as well as links to their submitted testimonies.


 
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Nov 12, 2013

Ohio Manufacturers' Association continues to emerge as an opponent of Sub. S.B. 58
 

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) proposal to scale back the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws through Sub. S.B. 58 is proving such a divisive topic that Ohio business groups that generally fall in lockstep over issues are at odds, The Columbus Dispatch reports. While the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Energy Users-Ohio support the changes, the Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) continues to emerge as an opponent to the bill. OMA President Eric Burkland said the revisions would benefit "the utilities, not the customers" and would effectively make the standards "meaningless" (See our Nov 07, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 08, 2013

Middletown Board of Education approves the sale of bonds to pay for energy efficiency upgrades
 

The Middletown Board of Education recently approved an energy conservation project expected to produce "nearly $100,000 a year in additional energy savings" for the school district, the Middletown Journal reports. The project involves the sale of bonds that are expected to raise $846,676 for the project, which includes "a retrofit of lighting fixtures in the district's eight elementary school buildings to increase energy efficiency as well as the retrofitting of the lighting fixtures and electric system at Barnitz Stadium and its parking lot," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 07, 2013

Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee continues hearing witness testimonies regarding Sub. S.B. 58
 

On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee continued hearing witness testimonies regarding Sub. S.B. 58, which Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who chairs the committee, introduced to scale back the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements in an effort to make compliance easier for utilities (See our Oct 24, 2013, blog post for more information). According to the Gongwer Ohio Report, discussions became heated when "[s]everal witnesses representing the Ohio Manufacturers' Association told members...that the current law requiring electric utilities to help reduce electricity demand by 22.5 percent by 2025...was effectively reducing customers' bills." Below is a list of individuals who testified as well as links to their submitted testimonies.


 
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Nov 06, 2013

Proponents defend Sub. S.B. 58 during companion legislation testimony in the Ohio House of Representatives
 

During the second hearing on H.B. 302, which is the non-competitive, companion legislation that was introduced to ready the Ohio House of Representatives for the upcoming discussion on Sub. S.B. 58, proponents discussed why the state's energy resource, energy efficiency and peak demand reduction law should be modified, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report and The Hannah Report. The discussion revolved mainly around the basic position assumed by supporters already, including the assertion that the circumstances predicated in the legislation did not pan out as expected, namely the abundance of cheap natural gas as a result of the region's shale boom as well as the availability of private sector funding for electricity-saving projects (See our Oct 24, 2013, blog post for more information).


 
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Nov 06, 2013

Bricker & Eckler attorney Thomas Siwo discusses current energy legislation in Ohio
 

During a recent Energy Exchange seminar in Columbus, Bricker & Eckler attorney Thomas Siwo presented a legislative update on key energy issues that are currently being addressed in the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives, including Sub. S.B. 58 – Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) proposal to scale back the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws. For more, watch the full video.


 
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Nov 05, 2013

Ohio's largest utilities appear to support Sub. S.B. 58
 

Although they had different positions on Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.'s attempts to eliminate the state's energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy requirements last year, it appears that Ohio's largest, investor-owned utilities support Sub. S.B. 58, which is Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) proposal to scale back those requirements, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. American Electric Power-Ohio (AEP-Ohio) and Duke Energy publicly support the bill, while the Dayton Power & Light Company has yet to comment. Opponents claim that these utilities support Sub. S.B. 58 because it includes language that would "allow them to keep 33 percent of customers' net EE savings as incentive payments without doing much to reduce electricity consumption," the article said. This measure, however, is one that Seitz specifically mentioned amending in response to critics (See our Oct 24, 2013, blog post for more information).


 
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Oct 31, 2013

Toledo Museum of Art installs a 300-kilowatt solar panel canopy and 135 LED bulbs
 

The Toledo Museum of Art's 20-year effort to reduce its energy usage and be more energy efficient is finally coming to fruition, The Blade reports. The museum's new main parking lot "features an estimated 300-kilowatt solar panel canopy," which is owned by a third party that sells the power back to the museum. As part of the effort, the museum recently installed 135 LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs in its early modern Japanese prints exhibit. The cost savings for LED bulbs are well known by now, but what's surprising is that LED technology has finally advanced to a point where their lighting quality "helps preserve the delicate artwork and enhances the pristine, vivid colors of the prints," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 24, 2013

Ohio House Public Utilities Committee deliberates non-competitive, companion legislation to Sub. S.B. 58
 

As promised, Ohio Rep. Peter Stautberg (R-Cincinnati) last week introduced non-competitive, companion legislation to Sub. S.B. 58, which is Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) proposal to scale back the state's energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy laws (See our Oct 08, 2013, blog post for more information). During a House Public Utilities Committee hearing yesterday, Stautberg, who chairs the committee, said H.B. 302 is meant "to help bring House members up to speed with the complex issues in anticipation of receiving the bill when it clears the Senate," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. The bill proposes to "eliminate the in-state mandate for half of Ohio’s required renewable energy; alter the 3 percent cost cap for renewable energy; allow hydropower from Canada to qualify toward the renewable energy standards; allow more power-saving upgrades to be counted toward EE standards; allow large industrial customers to more easily opt-out of EE programs; and implement a new cost cap on how much utilities could spend annually on those programs." Stautberg said he had not yet taken a position on whether Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards should be changed. For more, read the full text of H.B. 302.


 
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Oct 24, 2013

Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee continues hearing witness testimonies on Sub. S.B. 58; Sen. Seitz announces plans to introduce two amendments
 

On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee continued hearing witness testimonies on Sub. S.B. 58, which is Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) attempt to scale back the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws. Seitz, who also chairs the committee, said he is planning to introduce at least two amendments based on criticisms communicated during these hearings. Within the next few weeks, he will propose to amend Sub. S.B. 58 so that energy saving upgrades that utilities make on their own systems are allowed to count toward the state's energy efficiency requirements, but will not be eligible for shared savings incentives, according to Gongwer Ohio Report. He also intends to "amend language in the bill that would make it optional for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio [PUCO] to assess penalties on utilities that fail to comply with the clean energy requirements." He said he hopes the bill will pass out of committee by mid-November, the article said. Below is a list of individuals who testified as well as links to their submitted testimonies.


 
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Oct 23, 2013

Boardman Township to create special district enabling the Southern Park Mall to receive PACE financing for energy-related upgrades
 

Last week, the Western Reserve Port Authority advanced a plan to provide up to $4 million in Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) bonds to help Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, which owns the Southern Park Mall in Boardman Township, finance "upgrades to the mall's roof and a complete interior lighting retrofit," The Business Journal reports. Through this deal, the property owner would be able to finance "100 percent of the costs of the improvements, with no out-of-pocket costs, and repay the bonds for a term up to the useful life of the improvements," with the port authority receiving a 1.5 percent fee based on the value of the loan. Before the port authority can give final approval, the Boardman Township Board of Trustees must create an Energy Special Improvement District (ESID). Bricker & Eckler is counsel to the Township on this matter. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 21, 2013

Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance partner to promote PACE financing
 

Last week, the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority approved a partnership with the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance that has the potential to "unleash more than $100 million in energy-related real estate investments in Hamilton County over the next five years," WCPO.com reports. The new partnership, which already has "a pipeline of 20 projects involving 570,000 square feet of commercial real estate where $50 million in energy upgrades are being reviewed for potential financing," will be "the region's main vehicle" for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACE bonds are a financial tool used by property owners to fund energy efficiency improvements on their properties.

Bricker & Eckler LLP is Ohio's leader in PACE law. Bricker attorneys assisted in drafting Ohio's PACE law and served as bond counsel for Ohio’s first three issues of PACE bonds. Bricker attorneys work with private property owners and governmental entities to create the special improvement district necessary to implement PACE financing, levy assessments and structure the financing arrangements necessary to fund the improvements.  Please contact Bricker & Eckler attorney J. Caleb Bell at (614) 227-2300 or jbell@bricker.com with questions.

For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 17, 2013

PUCO report indicates that wind and solar have already slightly reduced customer bills
 

A report issued by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently "indicates wind and solar power have already slightly reduced customer bills," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Interpretations of the report were discussed as part of the greater debate over Sub. S.B. 58, which is Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) proposal to revise the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws. The report, "Renewable Resources and Wholesale Price Suppression," admits that the study was only an attempt to "quantify the price suppression effects that are associated with new utility-scale renewable projects and does not purport to comprise an overall cost-benefit analysis of these projects." Using cost modeling software to analyze the wholesale price of electricity with and without the RPS, the report found that "the renewable facilities currently operating in Ohio will reduce the megawatt-hour cost by 0.15 percent in 2014 and generate a total savings of $8.3 million." For more, read the full report.


 
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Oct 12, 2013

Miami University switches to a geothermal heating and cooling system for its campus expansion
 

For its Western campus expansion project, Miami University decided that instead of expanding its existing coal-fired steam plant to heat and cool the new buildings, it will instead switch to a more energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling system, WLWT.com reports. Approximately 16 million gallons of water per year are expected to be saved using this closed-circuit system, which features a geothermal pump that will work with water stored in 315 underground wells. The pump will both heat and cool three new residence halls and a new dining hall, all of which are set to open in 2014, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 11, 2013

Solar-powered house to be assembled as part of the Frank Lloyd Wright museum in Springfield
 

As part of its rebranding as the Westcott Center for Architecture and Design, the organization that spent $5.8 million over the last decade to restore Frank Lloyd Wright's only Prairie Style home in Ohio plans to assemble a solar-powered house designed and built by Norwich University of Vermont, Springfield News-Sun reports. The solar house – called the Delta-T90 – will be used "as a learning lab and a place to demonstrate clean energy technology, adding a permanent extra dimension to Westcott, which has been open as a museum since 2005." The organization regards the solar house as existing in the spirit of Wright, who designed energy efficient homes and "sought to alter the environment as little as possible with his buildings," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 08, 2013

Ohio House plans to introduce non-competitive, companion legislation to Sub. S.B. 58
 

Last week, Ohio Rep. Peter Stautberg (R-Cincinnati), chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee, announced that his committee is planning to introduce companion legislation to Sub. S.B. 58, which is the proposed revisions to the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws that Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) recently introduced, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report (See our Oct 03, 2013, blog post for more information).  Stautberg said the bill will not compete with the Senate's version, but is intended to get the committee "warmed up" on the issue while the Senate works through Sub. S.B. 58. The committee is expected to start hearings on the measure in about two weeks.


 
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Oct 07, 2013

Plain Dealer editorial board says encouraging renewable energy and energy efficiency is smart public policy
 

Speaking about hints that the Statehouse might, in October, pass Sub. S.B. 58 – the substitute bill Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) introduced to revise the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws – an editorial published on The Plain Dealer website recently implored legislative leaders to not "rush to curtail public debate and ram through major changes on a critical issue of state policy" (See our Sept 26, 2013, blog post for more information). Describing the encouragement of renewable energy and energy efficiency as "smart public policy," the editorial board said changes in the bill are likely to be "critically important to Ohio's environment – and to ratepayers (homeowners and businesses alike) of Ohio's electric utilities," the article said. For more, read the full editorial.


 
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Oct 03, 2013

Witnesses testify in opposition to Sub. S.B. 58
 

Several witnesses, including Ohio residents and those "representing environmental and clean energy businesses," testified before the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee on Friday in opposition to Sen. Bill Seitz's proposed revisions to the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report (See our Sept 26, 2013, blog post for more information). Below is a list of individuals who testified as well as links to their submitted testimonies.


 
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Sep 30, 2013

PUCO and the Ohio DSA team up to provide energy efficiency tips to Ohio residences and businesses as part of Energy Awareness Month
 

October is Energy Awareness Month, so the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) have partnered to "provide tips on reducing energy costs as well as information on energy assistance programs," a PUCO press release announced. Ohio residents are encouraged to visit www.energyhelp.ohio.gov to learn about programs that are available, while Ohio businesses and communities are encouraged to visit www.development.ohio.gov/bs/bs_energyloanfund.htm. For more, read the full press release.


 
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Sep 28, 2013

Coshocton City Schools is utilizing the Energy Conservation Program to pay for energy efficiency upgrades
 

The Coshocton City Schools district is utilizing the House Bill 264 Program to upgrade boilers, gymnasium lighting and pool systems, the Coshocton Tribune reports. Also called the Energy Conservation Program, it allows school districts to make energy efficiency improvements to their buildings and use the cost savings to pay for those improvements. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 26, 2013

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz testifies in support of legislation to revise the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws
 

On Wednesday, Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) offered sponsor testimony before the Senate Public Utilities Committee on a substitute version of the placeholder bill S.B. 58 that would "remove a requirement for utilities to buy half of their renewable power from Ohio suppliers, broaden activities that count toward energy management for large commercial and industrial power users and cap how much utilities can spend on energy-saving programs," Cincinnati Enquirer reports (See our Aug 23, 2013, blog post for more information). In the substitute bill, the end goal requirement of 22 percent energy efficiency and 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 would remain, but would be more gradually implemented in the near term "in trade for a little more compliance in the years just before 2025," Seitz said. David Boehm, of the Ohio Energy Group, and Sam Randazzo, general counsel of Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, offered testimony in support of the bill.


 
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Sep 24, 2013

ACEEE white paper details the cost, energy savings and jobs impacts of the Shaheen-Portman bill
 

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a white paper that analyzes the cost, energy savings and jobs impacts of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S. 1392), which is also known as the Shaheen-Portman bill (See our Aug 26, 2013, blog post for more information). Noting that amendments being considered could change these figures, the group determined that the core bill and select amendments could, by 2030, create 172,000 jobs, save $14.7 billion, save 1.6 quadrillion BTUs of energy annually and avoid 85.1 MMT of annual CO2 emissions. For more, read the full white paper.


 
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Sep 23, 2013

Sen. Bill Seitz to propose an overhaul of Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws on Wednesday
 

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), chairman of the Senate Public Utilities Committee, said he plans to introduce a proposal to the General Assembly on Wednesday that would change the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws as outlined in S.B. 221, The Columbus Dispatch reports (See our Aug 23, 2013, blog post for more information). Although the proposal would not change the 2025 benchmark for utilities, it would allow the largest industrial users to "opt out of requirements for renewable energy and energy efficiency." Technologies that provide both renewable energy and energy efficiency benefits would "count toward both benchmarks, not just one." If the energy efficiency requirement would increase consumer costs beyond a certain point, then utilities would be exempt from the requirement altogether. Also, the requirement that utilities get at least half of their renewable energy from within Ohio would be removed so that they could "buy it anywhere if it is deliverable to Ohio," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 17, 2013

Sierra Club asks its 17,000 Ohio members to boycott FirstEnergy Solutions
 

The Sierra Club, a national environmental organization, is joining the ranks of three other groups that are encouraging Ohio consumers to boycott FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions due to the parent company's "opposition to the state's energy efficiency standards," Columbus Business First reports (See our Sept 09, 2013, blog post for more information). The Sierra Club plans to ask its 17,000 Ohio members to choose another electricity supplier. The organization is also planning to run advertising that is "critical of FirstEnergy's energy efficiency approach," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 09, 2013

First Energy facing grassroots Facebook opposition pledge
 

Three groups, Moms Clean Air Force, Small Business Majority and the Ohio Environmental Council have launched a Facebook-based boycott of First Energy Solutions in an attempt to impact the debate on the State’s energy efficiency standards at the Ohio Statehouse, according to an article in Columbus Business First magazine.


 
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Sep 03, 2013

Dominion East Ohio's Home Performance with Energy Star program has performed 9,400 home efficiency audits since 2010
 

Since its launch in October 2010, Dominion East Ohio's Home Performance with Energy Star program has "performed 9,400 home-energy assessments throughout Northeast Ohio" through its Atlanta-based subcontractor GoodCents, The Vindicator reports. The audits cost $50, which is refunded if the recommended energy efficiency upgrades are performed. If these upgrades are completed, customers can then submit rebates to the utility of up to $1,250, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Aug 26, 2013

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman discusses the Energy Savings Industrial Competitiveness Act in Cambridge
 

During a tour of energy efficient products manufacturer Quanex in Cambridge, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) discussed how the energy efficiency bill he is cosponsoring with four other senators is gaining bipartisan support in the Senate. Sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), the Energy Savings Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC) would promote energy savings in residential and commercial buildings and industry. It was voted out of committee 19-3, the article said. For more, read the full story and the full text of S.761.


 
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Aug 23, 2013

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz outlines proposed changes to Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws
 

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who introduced S.B. 58 to modify S.B. 221, Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable laws, said yesterday that he plans to introduce legislation in the next two weeks that would replace the cost-benefit formula (wherein customer savings must outweigh the cost of utilities' electricity conservation programs) with a cap on "how much utilities can spend on energy efficiency programs" to meet benchmarks, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report (See our May 07, 2013, blog post for more information). It would also "scrap requirements for in-state solar and wind power." Seitz said the bill will propose expanding the upgrades that count toward energy efficiency compliance to include "some of the things that utilities are already doing," including upgrades to facilities to prevent electricity loss. He will propose creating a "streamlined process to allow large industrial customers to opt out of the energy efficiency standards" and adding "low-emissions, coal, innovative nuclear facilities and other emerging energy technologies" to the state's advanced energy portfolio standards.


 
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Aug 01, 2013

PUCO delays decision in FirstEnergy Corp.'s renewable energy rebates case until next week
 

Yesterday, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) voted to delay action in its case to determine whether Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. "overpaid for renewable energy credits and passed those excess costs on to customers," The Associated Press reports (See our Aug 23, 2012, blog post for more information). PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler said the delay is to allow time for the commission to "fine tune" its order. In June, the Ohio Power Company Corp. (AEP Ohio) moved late to intervene and request that the proceeding be reopened, saying it had "extraordinary circumstances" under which such a motion should be allowed. In its motion to intervene, AEP Ohio said the "nature of the issues involved in the case progressed beyond a limited audit of FirstEnergy Companies' rider and now involve significant energy-wide questions relating to compliance with renewable standards." The company seeks to address "gaps in information provided the commission" with regard to methods used by other utilities "that have operated in [the] same market" as FirstEnergy and were "able to manage costs." Confidentiality claims made by FirstEnergy with regard to portions of audit reports have prevented AEP Ohio and other utilities from discussing the details of the overcharges. For more, read the full story.


 
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Aug 01, 2013

PUCO delays decision in FirstEnergy Corp.'s renewable energy rebates case until next week
 

Yesterday, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) voted to delay action in its case to determine whether Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. "overpaid for renewable energy credits and passed those excess costs on to customers," The Associated Press reports (See our Aug 23, 2012, blog post for more information). PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler said the delay is to allow time for the commission to "fine tune" its order. In June, the Ohio Power Company Corp. (AEP Ohio) moved late to intervene and request that the proceeding be reopened, saying it had "extraordinary circumstances" under which such a motion should be allowed. In its motion to intervene, AEP Ohio said the "nature of the issues involved in the case progressed beyond a limited audit of FirstEnergy Companies' rider and now involve significant energy-wide questions relating to compliance with renewable standards." The company seeks to address "gaps in information provided the commission" with regard to methods used by other utilities "that have operated in [the] same market" as FirstEnergy and were "able to manage costs." Confidentiality claims made by FirstEnergy with regard to portions of audit reports have prevented AEP Ohio and other utilities from discussing the details of the overcharges. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 22, 2013

State announces the 12 power companies selected to participate in its energy efficiency program for low- to moderate-income housing
 

Last week, the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) announced the 12 electricity providers who will participate in the Electric Partnership Program for 2013. The program provides "in-home audits and installs appropriate energy efficiency measures as well as consumer education" in an effort to increase energy efficiency for low- to moderate-income houses that participate in Percentage of Income Payment Plan. For more, including a list of the 12 providers, read the full press release.


 
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Jul 19, 2013

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy releases three products to explain and showcase the value of combined heat and power systems
 

Last week, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio announced that the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released "three products designed to help utilities, policymakers, regulators and end-users understand the value" that combined heat and power (CHP) can offer an energy system. According to the bulletin, the three products are:

For a summary of the three reports, read this ACEEE blog post.


 
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Jul 17, 2013

Report advises energy sector to make "water-smart" choices when replacing older power plants
 

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists concludes that federal environmental regulations and an influx of cheap, domestic natural gas are driving the energy sector to undergo its most significant transition in the last half century. The report, "Water-Smart Power: Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a Warming World," says that the decisions that energy companies make now regarding the replacement of old power plants are critical to preserving water resources and minimizing effects on climate change in the future. Power-generating companies that elect to replace coal-fired power plants with ones that burn natural gas are going to be "at risk in the long term" of contributing to significant problems with regard to climate and water because traditional power generation depends heavily on water, as does the hydraulic fracturing process often used to recover the gas. Wind, solar and other renewable forms of energy do not depend heavily on water and, therefore, they and energy efficiency measures have the potential to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and water use should they be elected to replace these plants, the report said. For more, read the full report.


 
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Jul 15, 2013

Besides FirstEnergy Corp., utilities and consumers support the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements
 

With Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. leading an expensive campaign against Ohio's energy efficiency mandates, one can easily forget that not all of the state's utilities support changing the requirement that they reduce their electricity generation 22 percent by 2025, Newark Advocate reports (See our May 07, 2013, blog post for more information). An American Electric Power (AEP) spokeswoman said the company does not support changing the mandate because doing so would "ignore the money AEP already has spent" on compliance. The public watchdog the Ohio Consumers' Counsel also supports the standards, arguing that "customers saved as much as $4.20 for every dollar they were charged." A bill to reduce the effects of the standards is expected to be introduced in September, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 13, 2013

One-year extension of the production tax credit leaves lingering uncertainty in the U.S. renewable energy market
 

Although the renewable energy industry hailed the one-year extension granted to the production tax credit (PTC) at the end of last year, they find that its short-term length is inspiring little confidence in the market as speculations build as to whether it will be extended again, North American Windpower reports. Despite the PTC extension, which was intended to provide business certainty for wind, solar and other renewable energy developers in 2013, "orders have come to a standstill." The extension's eleventh-hour implementation as well as a change in the program's definition are also responsible for its limited impact (See our June 12, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 10, 2013

S.B. 58 could stop Ohio's waste energy recovery and combined heat and power industries before they get started
 

When S.B. 315 passed last year, it addressed a number of regulatory issues related to the shale boom in eastern Ohio. In addition, S.B. 315 made combined heat and power (CHP) and waste energy recovery systems eligible for the renewable energy and energy efficiency tax credits that were established in S.B. 221, which passed in 2008. Having only been in effect since last year, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has not yet established rules dictating the inclusion of these energy sources in the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio, Midwest Energy News reports. Recommendations for changing the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency rules, as directed in S.B. 58, are not expected for several months (See our May 07, 2013, blog post for more information). In the meantime, Ohio – which ranks fourth in the nation for "potential energy from combined heat and power" and 44th in actual installations – exists in a state of limbo as relevant parties wait to see what the regulatory framework will end up being for these energy sources. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 09, 2013

Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance awards $400,000 grant to the Northwest Local School District for energy efficiency upgrades
 

Last week, the Northwest Local School District accepted a $400,000 grant from the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance as part of its Commercial Buildings Retrofit Program, Cincinnati.com reports. The amount represents 10 percent of the cost of selected energy improvement projects that the district is undertaking to save money. The combined cost of the district's projects is about $5.8 million. With about half a million dollars expected to be saved in energy costs and maintenance each year, the improvements are projected to "pay for themselves in just under 12 years," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 08, 2013

GM says installing efficient lighting at its Lordstown complex is both environmentally and economically sound
 

General Motors Co. expects to save $800,000 by replacing 1,611 existing lighting fixtures at its assembly and stamping complex in Lordstown, Trumbull County, with 1,246 LED solid-state lighting fixtures that will not only cost less, but also consume less energy and require less maintenance, a company press release announced. Its "largest such conversion in North America," the company anticipates the project will reduce energy consumption 84 percent and eliminate 8,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the article said. For more, read the full press release.


 
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Jul 01, 2013

Study concludes that energy efficiency should be treated more like renewable energy
 

According to a study featured in the latest issue of Environmental Law, outdated ratemaking regulations are impeding the growth of energy efficiency because they reward moneymaking behavior from utilities. In "'Dancing Backward in High Heels': Examining and Addressing the Disparate Regulatory Treatment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resources," assistant professor for the Oregon State University College of Business and former energy law attorney Inara Scott found that many states' renewable portfolio standards require a certain portion of energy to come from sources that are more expensive than fossil fuels. However, she also found that states' energy efficiency requirements only mandate those that are "cost effective." For more, read the full Midwest Energy News story and Environmental Law article.


 
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Jun 29, 2013

President Obama's climate change action plan calls for more renewable energy and energy efficiency
 

In his climate change action plan released on Tuesday, President Barack Obama directed the Department of the Interior to permit enough renewable energy projects on public lands by 2020 to power more than six million homes, North American Windpower reports. The plan consists of three main components: reducing carbon pollution, preparing state and local governments for climate change, and leading international efforts to reduce carbon pollution. The plan also sets a new goal to "install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020" and maintains the commitment to deploy renewables on military installations. For more, read the full story and President Obama's Climate Action Plan Fact Sheet.


 
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Jun 27, 2013

Better Buildings Northwest Ohio has helped 964 homeowners with energy efficiency upgrades since 2009
 

Better Buildings Northwest Ohio, a joint venture between Columbia Gas of Ohio and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, has helped 964 homeowners complete recommended energy efficiency upgrades since 2009, Toledo Free Press reports. The $50 that homeowners pay for the initial home audit goes toward the cost of the upgrades should the they decide to do them. So far, 964 homes out of 1,700 audited have chosen to make the recommended improvements.  For more, read the full story


 
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Jun 25, 2013

This year's efforts to repeal or reduce states' renewable energy standards were largely unsuccessful
 

With most 2013 legislative sessions now adjourned or waning, Stateline, the daily news of the Pew Charitable Trusts, reports that "no state this year repealed its renewable energy requirement, lowered its percentage mandate or extended utilities’ deadlines for meeting it," despite strong efforts by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other groups to get such legislation passed. Currently, mandates are in place for 29 states and the District of Columbia. In 2011 and 2012, 50 bills were proposed to weaken existing renewable energy laws. Only five succeeded, but "none dramatically changed the policy," the article said (See our May 07, 2013, blog post – "It may be months before revisions to Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws are proposed"). These efforts have failed in part due to some conservative legislators finding themselves unable to deny the jobs and other economic benefits that the renewable energy industry has brought to their states. In addition, because passage of the energy standards requires "cooperation from a broad array of interest groups," including environmentalists, manufacturers, farmers, utilities and more, few are eager to change the standards now that they're in place. Major utilities in general "rarely push for repeals or watering down mandates – even if they opposed the initial policy" because they would rather "not change course after shifting resources toward compliance," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 24, 2013

U.S. House of Representatives defeats 2013 farm bill
 

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives soundly defeated the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, known as the farm bill, which was expected to pass in a bipartisan vote, ABCNews.com reports. Defeat of the almost $1 trillion bill leaves the fate of the Senate's version of the farm bill uncertain, North American Windpower reports (See our June 14, 2013, blog post – "U.S. Senate passes farm bill that includes millions in funding for rural renewable energy and energy efficiency projects"). For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 20, 2013

President of Milliron Recycling testifies before an Ohio Senate panel that the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws should be changed
 

On Tuesday, Grant Milliron, president of Milliron Recycling in Mansfield, was the only witness to testify "in support of freezing, repealing or changing" the state's energy efficiency requirements during the extra time that Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) allowed for discussion and testimony before the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee on S.B. 58 – a placeholder bill that reviews that state's energy efficiency standards, according to The Hannah Report and the Gongwer Ohio Report. Milliron said that while he recognized the importance of energy efficiency, he was concerned about the "aggressive nature" of the law's benchmarks. "There is no way I can reduce my energy requirements by more than 22 percent by 2025," Milliron said, referring to the requirement that utilities acquire 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. For more, read the written testimony that Milliron delivered to the committee back in April.


 
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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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Jun 18, 2013

Western Reserve Port Authority pursues Energy Special Improvement District designation to help Southern Park Mall in Boardman with efficiency upgrades
 

Last month, the Western Reserve Port Authority (WRPA) board voted to retain bond counsel to prepare documentation that would create an Energy Special Improvement District (ESID) for Southern Park Mall in Boardman, The Vindicator reports. Creating the district would allow the Boardman Township to issue Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bonds to finance energy efficiency improvements for the mall, which the mall's owner, Simon Properties, would then pay for "through a special assessment on its property taxes." If approved by the township trustees, the ESID designation would enable Simon Properties to finance the improvements using low-interest bonds that have "low or no upfront costs" and a collection period that spreads out over 30 years, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 14, 2013

U.S. Senate passes farm bill that includes millions in funding for rural renewable energy and energy efficiency projects
 

This week, the U.S. Senate voted to pass the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013. The first comprehensive farm bill since 2008, it includes funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for American Program (REAP), which "provides grants and loans to help rural businesses and agricultural procedures invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, including solar and small wind projects," North American Windpower reports. The bill's budgeted at $955 billion over 10 years, including "$68.2 million in mandatory REAP funding and $20 million in appropriated REAP funding annually for fiscal years 2014 through 2018." For more, read the full story and the full text of S. 954.


 
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Jun 13, 2013

Chemical industry says proposed LEED certification revisions unfairly target safe chemicals
 

The chemical industry is fighting hard against proposed revisions to LEED certification that it says would stigmatize – and decrease the market for – certain chemical products used in construction that pose little health risk when employed properly, Bloomberg reports. The American Chemistry Society, whose members include DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co., argue that with regard to the updated protocols known as LEED 4, the U.S. Green Building Council, which is the non-governmental organization that created the "voluntary but widely used" Leadership and Environment Design (LEED) standards, is treading into a public health policy area with regard to chemical regulation that it insists is better suited for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Proponents of the measure say the chemical industry's concerns are overblown and that adherence to the proposed materials standard would only provide a two-point advantage for those seeking a range of certifications that require between 40 and 80 points. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 10, 2013

U.S. Senate bill would make energy efficiency upgrades part of the home mortgage underwriting process
 

In an effort to overcome the fact that while consumers want green energy upgrades, few are willing to pay the full extent of the costs, U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) recently introduced legislation that would require energy efficiency upgrades be taken into account during the home mortgage underwriting process for loans that are "guaranteed by the federal agencies that collectively back roughly 90 percent of new mortgages," The New York Times reports. With a household's average energy costs having the potential to run in excess of "$70,000 over the life of a 30-year loan," which is more than "the real estate taxes and insurance payments that are already taken into account" as part of the underwriting process, this legislation would serve to highlight and disclose the fact that energy efficiency upgrades could reduce the average home's energy bill by at least 30 percent, and would encourage retrofits and construction projects for such savings, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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May 28, 2013

The COSE Ohio Efficiency Resource Fund is a nationwide first in energy efficiency financing
 

The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) in Northeast Ohio is launching the first program in the nation that will offer funding of up to $1 million to small community and commercial enterprises for energy efficiency upgrades to be paid back as the difference in savings on each monthly bill, The Plain Dealer reports. Modeled after funding programs created by the solar industry, the Ohio Efficiency Resource Fund works with building owners through an efficiency services agreement (ESA), which says that the fund designs, installs and owns energy-saving improvements that immediately lower utility bills for the building owner. The contract is cash-flow neutral and the utility bills cannot by contract "exceed the former utility bills," so the savings are used to pay off the cost of the upgrade over a period of up to 10 years. After that, ownership transfers to the building owner. For more, read the full story.


 
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May 23, 2013

OSU study credits state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards for saving ratepayers money
 

As the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee works on possible revisions to the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws, a new Ohio State University study released this week concluded that these provisions – passed in 2008 as part of S.B. 221 – are responsible for saving customers 1.4 percent on their electricity bills from 2008-2012 for a total of $170 million, The Columbus Dispatch reports (See our May 07, 2013, blog post for more information). The study, sponsored by the green energy trade group Advanced Energy Economy Ohio, found that these provisions "spurred $660 million in public and private investment and led to 3,200 new jobs." Disputing the study, critics maintain that subsidies would not be needed to support renewable energy technology and energy efficiency upgrades if they were actually cost effective, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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May 14, 2013

New program will make $1 million in low-interest loans available for home energy efficiency upgrades
 

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, a nonprofit economic development agency, announced last week that homeowners working to make energy efficiency upgrades as part of its Home Performance with Energy Star Program will now have financing available for their projects through the agency's new Greater Cincinnati Home Energy Loan Program, Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The agency is putting $1 million into the program's fund, which will be used to provide low-interest loans that will enable homeowners to finance their home energy efficiency projects, which at a minimum must amount to "a 15 percent reduction in their home's energy usage," the agency said on its website. For more, read the full Cincinnati Enquirer story and the full Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance story.


 
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May 13, 2013

Energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades equal savings for school districts
 

Neighboring Archbold and Pettisville school districts, which both received around $2 million in American Recovery and Revitalization Act funds to construct one turbine at each community's main school complex, are experiencing monthly energy savings of several thousand dollars as a result of the turbines, The Toledo Blade reports. The Pettisville turbine has "generated 305,421 kilowatt hours of power since it's Feb. 22 activation," valued at $23,212, while the Archbold turbine "is expected to provide about 64 percent of the electricity the district's neighboring high school and elementary school consume," the article said. For more, read the full story.

Meanwhile, officials said that because most of Hilliard's school buildings are now energy efficient, the district has experienced more than $1 million in savings in less than two years, ThisWeek Community News reports. The Ohio School Facilities Commission approved the district's energy efficiency upgrades as part of a program that allows "districts to issue bond debt without going to the ballot." The savings that result from the upgrades will be used to pay down the bond, for which the "federal government reimburses the district for interest," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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May 10, 2013

Bricker & Eckler attorney Caleb Bell explains PACE financing at recent NAIOP chapter event
 

Bricker & Eckler associate Caleb Bell recently served as a panelist at the Central Ohio NAIOP's Six Pack for Lunch event that took place on March 20, 2013, at the firm's main office in Columbus. A member of the firm's Public Finance group, Caleb explained the meaning and uses of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, which is a unique option for financing energy efficiency and alternative energy projects. Bricker & Eckler is Ohio's leader in PACE law. For more, watch the full video.


 
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May 07, 2013

It may be months before revisions to Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws are proposed
 

Now that the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee's hearings on the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards have concluded, it may be months before the panel reintroduces the issue, The Columbus Dispatch reports (See the May 01, 2013, blog – "Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz says S.B. 58 is meant to modify, not repeal, Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws").  The committee's chairman, Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), said it needs time to "digest what we've heard" before introducing a substitute bill to S.B. 221, which established the standards. Throughout the testimonies, little opposition was voiced against the state's renewable energy rules as FirstEnergy Corp. and others focused on the bill's energy efficiency requirements, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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May 01, 2013

Ohio Air Development Authority finances $10 million in major energy conservation upgrades in Franklin County
 

During its March meeting, the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) approved $10 million in Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECB) for "major energy efficiency and conservation upgrades at four county buildings in Columbus," a press release from the authority said. The projects are part of a policy enacted in 2006 by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners to "protect environmental stability while advancing economic growth." Combined, the upgrades will avoid the annual emission of 3,515 tons of carbon dioxide while also delivering $657,722 in annual utility cost savings. For more, read the full press release.


 
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May 01, 2013

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz says S.B. 58 is meant to modify, not repeal, Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws
 

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), the chairman of the Senate Public Utilities Commission who introduced S.B. 58 – the legislation to review the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements – said that the review is "more about modifying" than repealing the standards outlined in S.B. 221, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report (See the Feb 26, 2013, blog – "Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz outlines plan for S.B. 221's future"). One of the nation's largest electric utilities, Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., is leading the industry charge against the laws, testifying earlier this month "that the formula used to analyze the costs" of utilities' energy efficiency efforts was flawed. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is currently reviewing claims made by the utility that it exceeded the three percent cost cap years ago, which – if true – would exempt them from having to comply with the renewable energy portfolio requirements, the article said.


 
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Apr 30, 2013

North Carolina votes down bill to repeal state's renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standards
 

Last week, the North Carolina General Assembly's Public Utilities and Energy Committee voted down H.B. 298, which would have "repealed the state's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS)," North American Windpower reports (See the Apr 01, 2013, blog – "Legislation to scale back renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements has been introduced in 14 states this year"). North Carolina's REPS requires that investor-owned utilities procure "12.5 percent of their generation from renewable energy by 2021" and that electric cooperatives and municipal utilities procure "10 percent by 2018," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Apr 30, 2013

Two U.S. senators reintroduce legislation to promote energy efficiency in the manufacturing industry
 

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) recently reintroduced bipartisan legislation that pushes for energy efficient manufacturing using "a variety of low-cost tools to reduce barriers for private sector users" and encouraging "adoption of off-the-shelf efficiency technologies among the largest energy consumers," Dayton Business Journal reports. Among its provisions, the Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act would incentivize the use of more energy efficient electric motors and transformers; direct the U.S. Department of Energy to work with the private sector to develop and commercialize energy efficient technology for industrial applications; and create a Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Financing Initiative, the article said. For more, read the full story and the full text of the introduced bill.


 
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Apr 29, 2013

Testimonies from last week's Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee hearing on energy portfolio rules are now available
 

Because a "vast majority of interested parties" inquired about obtaining electronic transcripts of testimonies from a recent Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee hearing on the state's energy portfolio rules, Ohio Sen. William J. Seitz's office has made copies available regarding last Tuesday's hearing. Testimonies include the following:

•  Steven Giles, Hull & Associates, Inc.
•  Jeff Blake, Parker Hannifin Corp.
•  Grant Milliron, Milliron Recycling
•  Rick Taylor, Jay Industries
•  Jeff Bishop, EDP Renewables
•  Laura Steinbrink and James Nice, Energy Avenue
•  Al Rosenfield, League of Women Voters-Ohio
•  Steve Millard, Council of Smaller Enterprises
•  Kate Melges, Greenpeace-Ohio
•  Lisa Kochheiser, Resident
•  Greg Pace, Resident
•  Lois Hornbostel, Resident
•  Carolyn Harding, Resident
•  Heat is Power Association
•  Linda Butler and Steven Nissen, Residents
•  Terri Dawson, Resident
•  Amber Bellamy, Resident
•  Jennifer Abram, Resident
•  David Hoehnen, Resident
•  Ruth Hardy, Resident
•  Brian Kunkemoeller, Sierra Club-Ohio
•  Brett Heffner, Resident
•  Eric Burkland and Ryan Augsburger, Ohio Manufacturers' Association


 
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Apr 25, 2013

Ohio Manufacturers' Association supports state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws
 

Yesterday during the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee's ongoing review of the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws, Associate Director for Research at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) Neal Elliott testified on the findings of an analysis of rates and expenditures that was commissioned by the state's largest manufacturing trade group, the Ohio Manufacturers' Association, The Plain Dealer reports (See the Apr 09, 2013, blog – "Two major Ohio newspapers defend state's energy efficiency laws"). The 50-page analysis, completed by the ACEEE, concludes "generally that the efficiency rules have lowered demand, which in turn has helped push wholesale power prices down," the article said. Elliott also said that as opposed to FirstEnergy Corp., who is leading the charge to change the laws, "American Electric Power, Duke Energy of Ohio and Dayton Power & Electric have embraced the programs, maybe because they have figured out how to profit from it in the long run." For more, read the full story.


 
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Apr 23, 2013

The Ohio State University ranks 38th on the U.S. EPA's list of the top 50 green energy users
 

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency released its quarterly National Top 50 List for Green Power Partners, which ranks the green energy usage of companies, governments and academic institutions that work with the EPA to procure and utilize green power, Dayton Business Journal reports. Only one Ohio entity – The Ohio State University – made the list. Ranked 38th, OSU was recognized for purchasing 24 percent – 141,000,000 kWh – of its total electricity use from the Blue Creek Wind Farm. For more, read the full story and access the National Top 50 list.


 
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Apr 18, 2013

Ohio’s four utilities file their 10-year renewable energy and energy efficiency planning benchmarks
 

This week, Ohio’s four utilities filed their required annual plans "for compliance with future annual advanced- and renewable-energy benchmarks, including solar, utilizing at least a ten-year planning horizon." The plans are required to include the following:

1.  Baseline for the current and future calendar years;

2.  Supply portfolio projection, including both generation fleet and power purchases;

3.  A description of the methodology used by the company to evaluate its compliance options; and

4.  A discussion of any perceived impediments to achieving compliance with required benchmarks, as well as suggestions for addressing any such impediments.

For more, view the FirstEnergy, AEP-Ohio, Duke Energy and Dayton Power and Light benchmarks.


 
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Apr 16, 2013

Cincinnati Enquirer guest op-ed: Ohio's clean energy policies are good for businesses in the long term
 

This week, Jeff Perkins, executive director of Friends Fiduciary Corp. – a Quaker nonprofit that provides financial services to more than 300 Quaker organizations – penned an impassioned op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer in defense of Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws. Perkins said that such a policy decision has "diversified Ohio's energy mix, lowered energy bills and given investors the green light to fund companies that are helping the state reach its goals," and that outside groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are responsible for the Ohio legislature's decision to review these laws (See our Apr 01, 2013, blog – "Legislation to scale back renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements has been introduced in 14 states this year"). He argued that transitioning to clean energy enables his company to invest in other companies that are able to deliver solid returns "through long-term efforts that serve customers and build shareholder value" while still reflecting Quaker values. For more, read the full op-ed.


 
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Apr 12, 2013

Major companies use the PACE program to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects
 

Through the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program, commercial borrowers are "set to receive record loans this year" for solar energy installations, Bloomberg reports (See the Feb 14, 2013, blog – "The PACE program: a new approach to financing commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades"). The decision by two of the nation's largest commercial real estate owners – "Prologis, an international owner of industrial properties, and Simon Property Group, the country's largest U.S. Real Estate Investment Trust" – to use the program to fund projects ranging from rooftop solar panels to energy-saving systems has "radically changed market acceptance," Bond Buyer reports. Simon Property alone recently used $5 million in PACE financing for three energy efficiency projects in Ohio and California.

Although they vary from state to state, most PACE programs feature a municipal government that offers PACE bonds to investors who provide loans to businesses and consumers for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The government provides financing by creating an assessment district that is added to the tax roll, which the property owner then pays on a tax bill for a period of up to 30 years.

At a time when banks are becoming "less eager to provide long-term capital for renewable energy," it is estimated that more PACE loans will be made in 2013 "than in the past four years combined," and that as much as $150 million in PACE loans will be provided for projects like these, Bloomberg reports. The commercial property side of the program is drawing so much interest, Bond Buyer reports that "market watchers think in a few years enough volume could exist in California to start bundling the currently privately-placed bonds to sell in the public market." For more, read the full Bloomberg story and the full Bond Buyer story.

Bricker & Eckler LLP is Ohio's leader in PACE law. Bricker attorneys assisted in drafting Ohio's PACE law and served as bond counsel for Ohio’s first three issues of PACE bonds, including the energy efficiency bonds for the Simon Properties' project in Lake County, Ohio.


 
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Apr 11, 2013

Cleveland City Council passes ordinance in support of state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws
 

As Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws are being reviewed in the Statehouse, Cleveland City Council voted 17-0 this week on Resolution No. 13 – an emergency ordinance  "supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy, and urging Gov. Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly to preserve" these measures, EcoWatch reports (See the Apr 09, 2013, blog – "Two major Ohio newspapers defend state's energy efficiency laws"). During a press conference announcing the ordinance, Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone said that the laws "created thousands of jobs and will save our residents billions of dollars," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Apr 09, 2013

Two major Ohio newspapers defend state's energy efficiency laws
 

The Toledo Blade and The Plain Dealer both used their editorial sections last week to defend Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws. The Plain Dealer Editorial Board said that FirstEnergy Corp.'s battle with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio over it's three-year energy efficiency program for the company was "not in the best interests of Ohio's utility ratepayers," arguing that the plan not only makes Ohio residents pay less for energy, but also reduces Ohioans' exposure to pollution from coal-fired plants. For more, read the full Plain Dealer editorial.

The Toledo Blade editorial goes a step further, insisting that the benefits of diversifying the state's power supply are so far-reaching and plentiful that the laws setting it into place should not only be "maintained" but "strengthened." Insisting that "conventional-energy interests" are behind the legislative push to weaken these standards, the editorial board argues that the state's clean energy standards are "creating jobs, promoting advanced manufacturing and small business, diversifying the state’s power supply, improving public health by reducing pollution, and lowering utility bills." For more, read the full Toledo Blade editorial.


 
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Apr 09, 2013

Two-year pilot program will install energy efficient LED street lights throughout Cleveland
 

A two-year pilot program will launch May 1 wherein city-owned Cleveland Public Power will install four varieties of light-emitting diode (LED) lights throughout Cleveland to help "gauge efficiency, coverage and how well they hold up to harsh Cleveland weather," The Plain Dealer reports. Existing bulbs range in price from $125 to $150, but only burn for about four years. The new lights range in price from $250 for a 150-watt bulb to $750 for a 400-watt bulb, but "have a lifespan of about 25 years and use roughly 50 percent less energy" than traditional bulbs. $500,000 in city coffers and $200,000 from a federal energy conservation initiative are jointly funding the project. For more, read the full story.


 
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Apr 08, 2013

Columbus environmental official praises city's eco-successes
 

Erin Miller, environmental steward for the city of Columbus, delivered a presentation to Ohio State University students recently that highlighted three of the city's environmental sustainability projects: RecyColumbus, BikeShare and the Green Columbus Fund, The Lantern reports. The recycling initiative RecyColumbus has so far collected 15,000 tons of waste and saved $826,000 in landfill fees, while the BikeShare program will offer memberships and passes for, as well as some free use of, bikes throughout the city beginning in July. The Green Columbus Fund was also mentioned, which is "an annual grant to fund the cost of having buildings earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification," the article said.


 
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Apr 01, 2013

Legislation to scale back renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements has been introduced in 14 states this year
 

Ohio is just one of 14 states with legislators who this year have introduced bills to repeal or reduce renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements, The Wall Street Journal reports (See the Mar 20, 2013, blog – "Ohio Senate panel continues review of state's energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements"). These opponents liken renewable energy mandates to forced taxes that increase energy bills for consumers and distort the free market's effects on new energy industries. Proponents of the mandates insist that consumer cost increase estimates are being overblown and that many legislators behind the move to repeal these requirements are taking directives "from conservative think tanks 'funded by fossil-fuel interests,'" the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 27, 2013

Court rules that FHFA may refuse to underwrite residential mortgages for homes with PACE projects
 

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco overruled a district court last Tuesday when it ruled that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) does not have to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to underwrite mortgages for homes with Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans, Bond Buyer reports. Started in Berkeley, California, in 2008, PACE "allows residential and commercial property owners to use municipal bonds to finance energy efficiency and water conservation projects." Expressing concern over the fact that because "PACE liens are senior to the mortgage," the PACE lender would "be paid ahead of the bank, or Fannie or Freddie, in the case of foreclosure," FHFA effectively halted the program on the residential side in July 2010, the article said. PACE programs have emerged throughout the country to fund commercial, industrial and governmental projects, but FHFA’s position has blocked the use of PACE for residential projects. For more, read the full story (Subscription required).


 
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Mar 27, 2013

Akron Beacon Journal editorial defends Ohio's renewable portfolio standards
 

Tom Ford, president and chief executive of Advanced Energy Economy Ohio, wrote an editorial for the Akron Beacon Journal this week in defense of the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements. Ford explained that three-quarters of the coal used in Ohio plants is imported from out of state, and that recent legislation like S.B. 221 and S.B. 315 has lowered the cost of electricity for ratepayers, reduced energy demand, and diversified energy sources. For more, read the full editorial.


 
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Mar 25, 2013

Climate change skeptics' influence is felt during Ohio Senate's review of S.B. 221
 

The Associated Press reports that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a nonprofit, conservative policy advisory group, is a "leading force behind the push" to repeal several states' renewable energy standards, including having provided "model legislation" to Ohio known as the Electricity Freedom Act (See the Nov 09, 2012, blog – "American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to launch campaign to repeal renewable energy standards"). The "council's influence" became increasingly evident during the Ohio Senate panel's review of the state's energy portfolio rules when a senior fellow with the Heartland Institute – a "leading voice in promoting skepticism about climate change" – appeared as an early witness, the article said (See the Mar 20, 2013, blog – "Ohio Senate panel continues review of state's energy-efficiency and renewable-energy requirements").


 
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Mar 20, 2013

Ohio Senate panel continues review of state's energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements
 

Supporters of Ohio's benchmarks for renewable energy and energy efficiency fear that a five-year checkup on the rules by an Ohio Senate panel will result in the standards being weakened significantly, The Columbus Dispatch reports (See the Feb. 26, 2013, blog – "Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz outlines plan for S.B. 221's future" and the Mar 19, 2013, blog – "PUCO to host workshop to determine impact of energy portfolio rules on businesses"). Senate Bill 221 requires Ohio's investor-owned electric companies to get "25 percent of their energy from renewable or advanced sources by 2025," and to "help customers use energy-efficiency tools to reduce certain types of power use by 22 percent by 2025," the article said. During the testimony of PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler, Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), chairman of the Senate Public Utilities Commission, said that the "provisions about renewable energy and energy efficiency were 'almost thrown in casually,'" to S.B. 221. This claim was contested by Bricker & Eckler attorney Terrence O'Donnell, who said the rules were thoroughly vetted during months of hearings before S.B. 221 was passed in 2008. For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 20, 2013

Testimonies from the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee hearing on energy portfolio rules are now available
 

Because a "vast majority of interested parties" inquired about obtaining electronic transcripts of testimonies from yesterday's Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee hearing on the state's energy portfolio rules, a copy of all transcripts complete with any included attachments is now available.  Testimonies are from: Andrew Ott of PJM Interconnection; Samuel C. Randazzo of Industrial Energy Users-Ohio; James Taylor of The Heartland Institute; Eric Thumma of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Coalition; Daniel R. Simmons of the Institute for Energy Research; John C. Crespo of American Electric Power; and Colin Murchie of SolarCity Corporation on behalf of the Solar Energy Industries Association. For more, read the full document.


 
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Mar 19, 2013

PUCO to host workshop to determine impact of energy portfolio rules on businesses
 

In an effort to ensure that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio reviews its rules in accordance with Gov. John Kasich's Executive Order 2011-01K, "Establishing the Common Sense Initiative," Attorney Examiner for the PUCO Bryce McKenney ordered that a workshop be scheduled so that PUCO staff may "receive feedback from interested stakeholders before it issues draft rules" during the review of its Energy Efficiency Programs. The workshop, which takes place April 23, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. at the offices of the Commission, 180 East Broad Street, Hearing Room 11-B, Columbus, Ohio, will also be webcast on www.puco.ohio.gov to allow broader access. Gov. Kasich's executive order requires the commission to "review its rules to determine the impact that a rule has on small businesses; attempt to balance the critical objectives of regulation and the cost of compliance by the unregulated parties; and amend or rescind rules that are unnecessary, ineffective, contradictory, redundant, inefficient, or needlessly burdensome, or that have had negative, unintended consequences, or unnecessarily impede business growth."


 
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Mar 11, 2013

Ohio Sen. Troy Balderson announces that a bill to review Ohio's energy portfolio requirements will be introduced this week
 

During the Ohio Oil and Gas Association winter meeting in Columbus last Thursday, Ohio Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville), member of the Senate Public Utilities Committee, stated that he and Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) will introduce a bill this week to "evaluate" S.B. 221, which requires electric utilities to supply 25 percent of their generation from alternative sources by 2025, Zanesville Times Recorder reports (See the Feb. 26, 2013, blog – "Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz outlines plan for S.B. 221’s future"). Sen. Balderson said "times have changed since we did 221" and that the emergence of the Utica shale's potential partly influenced the decision to review the state's energy portfolio requirements, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 26, 2013

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz outlines plan for S.B. 221’s future
 

Yesterday, the office of Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) sent a memorandum to respondents of his request for comment on a placeholder bill to review issues related to S.B. 221 – former Gov. Ted Strickland’s energy bill, which established renewable energy portfolio and energy efficiency standards for the state (See the Feb 05, 2013, blog – “Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz moves to review the state’s energy portfolio and energy efficiency standards”). Sen. Seitz stated that the plan going forward following the introduction of the placeholder bill is to have a hearing on “information from the perspectives of the PUCO and the OCC,” followed by subsequent hearings on subtopics. Upon completion of those hearings, it will be determined “what, if anything, should replace the placeholder bill.” For more, read the full memorandum.

Update: Sen. Seitz introduced the placeholder bill. Read the full text of S.B. 58.


 
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Feb 14, 2013

The PACE program: a new approach to financing commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades
 

The Johnson Controls Institute for Building Efficiency, PACENow and the Urban Land Institute released a report this month on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, which is a “municipal approach to support energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades in commercial buildings in the United States” that originated in 2008 in Berkeley and Palm Desert, California. The report profiles four of the 16 PACE programs that are currently accepting applications, including the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority program based in Toledo, Ohio. 

Each program operates slightly differently due to the PACE industry being in the early stage of development. However, PACE financing structures commonly include features such as: zero up-front cash investment; low interest rates; immediate positive cash flow; long-term financing (up to 30 years in Ohio); PACE assessments can run with the land upon sale; the ability to pass payments through to tenants; higher rents and greater long-term property value because of energy efficiency; and preservation of borrowing capacity through off-balance-sheet financing.

The specifics vary from program to program, but generally, after a state passes PACE-enabling legislation, a local government then creates or joins an assessment district. Building owners evaluate projects that reduce energy costs and decide whether to move forward. The local government then provides financing by adding the assessment to the tax roll. The property owner then pays the assessment on a tax bill for a period of up to 30 years. For more information, including eligible technologies and projects, preferred initial and eligible project sizes, minimum energy savings requirements and a full list of the active PACE programs across the nation, read the full report

Bricker & Eckler LLP attorneys assisted in drafting Ohio’s PACE law and served as bond counsel for Ohio’s first three issues of PACE bonds.


 
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Feb 08, 2013

Wright State University looks to save $35.8 million by reducing its energy consumption
 

Next week, the Wright State Board of Trustees will vote on a plan that, if approved, will save Wright State University $35.8 million over the next 15 years by reducing its energy consumption nearly 40 percent, Dayton Daily News reports. On Feb. 15, the board will vote on a $25.2 million contract with ABM Industries Inc. to “modernize the heating and cooling plants at the university’s Fairborn and Lake campuses” by “eliminating 30 major pieces of equipment, tying the entire main campus to one main boiler system, replacing light fixtures with LED and using the pond near the Nutter Center for year-round geothermal cooling,” the article said. With annual maintenance cost savings estimated at $225,000, the new system will pay for itself in 12.7 years. For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 05, 2013

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz moves to review the state’s energy portfolio and energy efficiency standards
 

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), chairman of the Senate Public Utilities Commission, sent a memo to interested parties last week announcing plans to introduce a placeholder bill to review issues related to former Gov. Ted Strickland’s energy bill, which established renewable portfolio and energy efficiency standards for the state, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. In the memo, Sen. Seitz provides a list of issues, including “whether the 3% cost cap on complying with the renewable energy portfolio should be revised; how much it cost utilities to comply; whether energy efficiency targets should be frozen in place; and if the benchmarks are abolished, should existing contracts be preserved”; he also encourages individuals to submit any additional topics for the discussion to his office by February 15. Sen. Seitz, who last year co-sponsored a bill to repeal the alternative sources of energy requirement created by former Gov. Strickland’s bill, said in an interview that he will not “prejudge the outcome of the committee’s review process,” the article said. For more, read the full memo.


 
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Feb 04, 2013

Toledo Blade op-ed supports a national energy standard, Ohio’s energy efficiency requirement, and an expansion of the production tax credit
 

A recent op-ed featured on the Toledo Blade website insists that the federal government must develop a national standard for renewable energy so as to level the playing field among states – preventing those that already have energy standards from engaging in “a tug of war” for investors, and also creating market certainty for these investors. The editorial opines that the United States must invest more in clean energy resources so that it doesn’t fall behind China and parts of Europe; the production tax credits should be expanded; Ohio’s renewable energy laws should be maintained; and Congress should make a “great commitment” to researching and developing clean energy technologies through the nation’s universities. For more, read the full op-ed.


 
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Jan 11, 2013

Report analyzes energy efficiency programs
 

A new report released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that new technologies and programs could potentially save “27 percent in electricity use and 19 percent of forecasted natural gas use by 2030,” according to The Hannah Report. The report, titled “Frontiers of Energy Efficiency: Next Generation Programs Reach for High Energy Savings,” examines 22 program types and concepts to identify trends in “capturing cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities available to electricity and natural gas customers,” exploring innovative programs that are using technologies that could potentially revolutionize the market, as well as programs that need to be redesigned to offer “incentives and services that produce much higher savings than traditional approaches,” the report said. For more, read the full report.


 
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Dec 13, 2012

U.S. Department of Energy awards $4 million to LEEDCo to launch offshore wind development on Lake Erie
 

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recently announced that the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the nonprofit Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. of Cleveland (LEEDCo) $4 million to launch an offshore wind development project that will install nine 3-megawatt wind turbines seven miles off the coast of Cleveland in Lake Erie, The Plain Dealer reports. LEEDCo’s project is one of seven that the Department of Energy chose to fund that “will focus on the commercialization of innovative wind technology in the United States,” the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 12, 2012

Cincinnati proposes amendments to boost LEED incentives for developers
 

In an effort to “further incentivize developers to reach for higher Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications,” the city of Cincinnati is proposing amendments to its tax abatement program for buildings built in adherence to LEED standards that would remove “the value limit for new and rehabilitated residential structures that achieve LEED platinum certification,” Business Courier reports. The current LEED incentive offers “a 15-year, 100 percent tax abatement valued up to $562,792 on new residential construction and a 10-year tax abatement on improvements up to a maximum of $562,792 market value,” which critics say drives builders to “go after low-hanging fruit” and develop “properties at lower LEED levels,” the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 29, 2012

FirstEnergy Corp. suspends efforts to challenge Ohio’s energy efficiency mandates
 

A spokesman for the Akron-based electricity company, FirstEnergy Corp., confirmed yesterday that the company has abandoned its lobbying campaign that was aimed at persuading lawmakers to pass a measure that would freeze efficiency standards at existing levels and cancel annual increases that are part of the state’s energy efficiency standards, The Plain Dealer reports (See the Nov. 28, 2012, blog – “FirstEnergy Corp. pushes the General Assembly to freeze Ohio’s energy efficiency requirements”). For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 28, 2012

FirstEnergy Corp. pushes the General Assembly to freeze Ohio’s energy efficiency requirements
 

Akron-based electricity company, FirstEnergy Corp., wants the General Assembly to pass a measure that would cancel annual energy efficiency increases that are part of the state’s energy efficiency standards and would freeze efficiency standards at existing levels, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Business and environmental groups alike oppose the measure, arguing that it would hurt demand in the state’s green energy economy, while proponents of the measure argue that the standards reduce demand for utilities’ products, the article said. For more, read this Columbus Dispatch story and this Plain Dealer story.


 
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Nov 28, 2012

FirstEnergy Corp. pushes the General Assembly to freeze Ohio’s energy efficiency requirements
 

Akron-based electricity company, FirstEnergy Corp., wants the General Assembly to pass a measure that would cancel annual energy efficiency increases that are part of the state’s energy efficiency standards and would freeze efficiency standards at existing levels, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Business and environmental groups alike oppose the measure, arguing that it would hurt demand in the state’s green energy economy, while proponents of the measure argue that the standards reduce demand for utilities’ products, the article said. For more, read this Columbus Dispatch story and this Plain Dealer story.


 
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Nov 20, 2012

FirstEnergy presses lawmakers to make dramatic change to Ohio’s energy efficiency standards
 

A recent editorial in the Akron-Beacon Journal argues that Ohio-based energy providers like FirstEnergy are pushing back against significant strides made in statewide energy efficiency statutes by pressing lawmakers to roll back these statutes in the lame-duck session. FirstEnergy contends that Ohio’s commitment to reduce electricity consumption 22 percent by 2025, coupled with the current landscape where there is less demand and more competition in the form of inexpensive natural gas, is untenable and could potentially place an additional burden on the state’s economy. But the editorial argues that it would be wrong to rescind the commitment the state has made, stating: “What lawmakers should recall as the Akron-based utility makes its pitch is that four years ago, strong bipartisan majorities made a long-term commitment to energy efficiency” because it achieves savings, encourages investment and innovation, and benefits the environment. For more, read the full editorial


 
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Nov 13, 2012

Report provides a regional breakdown of Ohio’s energy efficiency industry
 

As reported earlier, the nonprofit trade group Advanced Energy Economy released a report in October showing that there are 400 unique organizations that “participate actively in energy efficiency research, pilot testing, and commercial activity” across Ohio (See the Nov 02, 2012, blog – “Report: 10,000 Ohio jobs involve energy efficiency”). Ohio’s energy efficiency technologies and services also have $2.1 billion in revenue and funding, and employ 9,600 full-time equivalent workers, according to the analysis. The report provided the following data on Ohio’s six regions:

Central Ohio: 92 unique organizations; 1,850 full-time equivalent workers; and $380 million in revenue and funding. Innovative research and development hub with concentrations in data center technologies, insulation and cool roof products.

West Central Ohio: 37 unique organizations; 990 full-time equivalent workers; and $140 million in revenue and funding. Established strengths in building services and research and development capability.

Northwest Ohio: 49 unique organizations; 1,420 full-time equivalent workers; and $330 million in revenue and funding. Strengths in insulation, exterior windows, cool roof systems and major appliances. Emerging auditing tools complement its established strengths in building services and research and development capability.

Northeast Ohio: 220 unique organizations; 4,030 full-time equivalent workers; and $1.04 billion in revenue and funding. Sizeable and diverse assets in lighting, insulation and exterior windows.

Southeast Ohio: 20 unique organizations; 240 full-time equivalent workers; and $45 million in revenue and funding. A hotbed of Stirling Engine and Stirling-based technology development amidst more traditional manufacturing.

Southwest Ohio: 86 unique organizations; 1,130 full-time equivalent workers; and $180 million in revenue and funding. Distinctive concentration in building services, paired with substantial exterior window, door and lighting manufacturing.


 
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Nov 02, 2012

Toledo Blade editorial: enforcement of energy efficiency provisions should not be suspended
 

An editorial published yesterday on The Toledo Blade’s website argued that the Ohio General Assembly should reaffirm its support for the Ohio law requiring the state to get “25 percent of its power from nonconventional sources by 2025,” half of which must come from renewable sources like solar, wind and biomass. The editorial cited the Ohio Environmental Council’s concern that lawmakers will try to get a “rollback proposal in their lame-duck session after Election Day” to suspend the energy efficiency provisions of the law for as long as six years, which the piece labeled as an effort by utility lobbyists and other special interests to “ensure a steady stream of profits” by working to ensure that Ohio customers use more energy than they need, the editorial said. For more, read the full editorial.


 
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Nov 02, 2012

Report: 10,000 Ohio jobs involve energy efficiency
 

A new report from the nonprofit trade group Advanced Energy Economy found that 10,000 jobs in Ohio involve improving energy efficiency and their work generates “$2.1 billion in annual sales,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. Of both the total jobs and revenue, Central Ohio accounts for 20 percent. Northeastern Ohio, which is known for its manufacturing industry, accounts for “about 50 percent of the jobs and annual revenue in the report,” the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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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 19, 2012

Ohio candidates to discuss renewable energy and energy efficiency at forums
 

Two forums are being hosted in Columbus and Dayton that will allow a number of candidates for the Ohio legislature to discuss with voters where they stand on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The event, “Candidate Night,” is part of the 2012 Clean Energy Candidate Education Project and is free to the public. The Central Ohio Candidate Night takes place on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at The Ohio State University Page Hall (LEC Room) Building 061, 1810 College Road, Columbus, Ohio, 43210. The Dayton Candidate Night takes place on Thursday, October 25, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Dayton Kennedy Union Ballroom, 300 College Park, Dayton, Ohio, 45469. For more information, including a list of invited and confirmed candidates as well as RSVP information, visit the event's website.


 
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Oct 03, 2012

Columbus expands Green Columbus Fund to include multifamily housing
 

Columbus City Council approved an ordinance yesterday that expands the Green Columbus Fund beyond commercial LEED-certified building projects, which will enable builders to receive a 25 percent reimbursement for “construction of central city energy efficient apartments and condominiums,” according to a press release from Get Green Columbus. The Green Columbus Fund, which is sponsored by AEP Ohio and Columbia Gas of Ohio, offers these cash incentives to “help offset the cost of energy-efficient products, materials and appliances,” the release said. For more, read this Business First story.


 
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Oct 02, 2012

Akron Beacon Journal editorial: shale boom should not quash renewable energy efforts
 

In response to claims made during the Northern Ohio Energy Management Conference last week that renewable energy mandates should be repealed in light of cheap natural gas and a struggling economy, an editorial published on the Akron Beacon Journal website yesterday argues that the promise of shale should not “divert attention” from the state’s commitment to improve energy efficiency and promote alternative energy sources (See the Sep 26, 2012, blog – “Shale proponents speak out against renewable energy mandates during energy efficiency conference”). In favor of extending the federal production tax credit, the editorial argues that the fact that other energy sectors have received similar tax credits and subsidies invalidates the claim that such support amounts to “the government picking winners and losers” instead of the free market. For more, read the full editorial.


 
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Sep 26, 2012

Shale proponents speak out against renewable energy mandates during energy efficiency conference
 

A theme emerged during the Northern Ohio Energy Management Conference in Akron yesterday wherein shale proponents repeatedly questioned Ohio’s need for state and federal renewable energy mandates now that the shale industry has taken off, The Plain Dealer reports. Several speakers remarked that such mandates distort competition and would not pass if put to a vote today because of the shale gas boom and the lackluster economy. Proponents of renewable energy maintained that energy efficiency is the “cheapest energy option” and that energy efficiency mandates create jobs, the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Sep 25, 2012

OhioEnergyPathways.org launched to help Ohioans prepare and apply for energy jobs
 

The Ohio Board of Regents announced today that it has launched a website to help connect “Ohioans seeking education and jobs in the energy industry” with education and training resources, as well as employment opportunities, that are tailored to their needs and interests, according to a press release from the board. Keeping with Governor Kasich’s vision that higher education institutions better equip students with the skills and knowledge needed by Ohio’s businesses and employers, the website – OhioEnergyPathways.org – features information about the advanced energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and oil and gas sectors. For more, read the full press release here.


 
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Sep 25, 2012

10th annual Green Energy Ohio Tour schedule now available
 

Nonprofit renewable energy advocate Green Energy Ohio has scheduled 170 open houses in more than 100 communities in 49 counties across Ohio to showcase renewable energy and green design, a press release from the organization said. Tours, which run from Monday, October 1 through Sunday, October 7, are free and open to the public during designated times and include photovoltaics, energy efficiency features, LEED buildings, Energy Star, electric vehicles charged by renewable energy, passive solar, solar thermal, wind, geothermal and biomass. To view the schedule, pick a tour or design a personalized, self-guided tour, visit the GEO website here.


 
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Aug 31, 2012

President Obama signs executive order on industrial energy efficiency
 

The White House announced today that President Obama has signed an executive order to “accelerate investments in industrial energy efficiency, including combined heat and power (CHP),” a press release from the U.S. Department of Energy said. According to the release, the executive order:

•Sets a national goal of 40 gigawatts (GW) of new CHP installation over the next decade;

•Directs agencies to foster a national dialogue through ongoing regional workshops to encourage the adoption of best practice policies and investment models that overcome the numerous barriers to investment, provide public information on the benefits of unlocking investment in industrial energy efficiency, and use existing Federal authorities that can support these investments; and

•Directs the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency, to coordinate actions at the Federal level while providing policy and technical assistance to states to promote investments in industrial energy efficiency.

In support of this executive order, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency released a report titled “Combined Heat and Power: A Clean Energy Solution,” which the press release says “provides a foundation for national discussions on effective ways to achieve 40 GW of new, cost-effective CHP by 2020.” For more, read the president’s executive order here, the press release from the Department of Energy here and the joint DOE and EPA report here.


 
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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 15, 2012

Expo returns to highlight business-to-business opportunities in Ohio’s advanced energy industry
 

The Advanced Energy Business-to-Business Conference & Expo has grown out of its northeast Ohio roots and will cover the entire state during its annual event, which takes place this year at the Greater Columbus Convention Center from October 30-31, 2012, a press release from NorTech said. NorTech produced the event and Advanced Energy Economy Ohio is presenting the agenda, which includes sessions with industry experts on key advanced energy sectors like waste and biomass to energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, fuel cells, smart grid, shale gas and solar, as well as a technology showcase featuring “entrepreneurs, companies, and researchers seeking collaborators, partners and funding,” the release said. More than 700 industry professionals are expected to attend and more than 120 companies and organizations are expected to exhibit, the press release said.


 
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Aug 02, 2012

Columbus to review historic-preservation standards for energy-efficient renovations
 

With so many residents eager to make energy-efficient renovations to their historic homes, the Historic Resources Commission of Columbus will coordinate a plan to hire an architectural consultant who will help determine “which new ‘green’ improvements and materials meet historic-preservation standards” for Columbus’ historic neighborhoods, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Many residents of the historic districts insist the standards need updating, noting that the city’s historic standards do not address alternative energy sources like solar panels at all, the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Jun 28, 2012

IRS issues guidance on QECBs
 

The IRS released a notice providing additional guidance on the Qualified Energy Conservation Bond (QECB) program that began nationwide in 2008. As part of the program, Congress has authorized $3.2 billion in QECBs for both renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at the state and local levels. QECBs provide investors with low-interest financing for projects that meet the bond program’s guidelines. The most popular form of QECBs provides the issuer of securities a federal subsidy payment up to 70 percent of the interest paid on bonds issued to finance qualifying QECB projects. In order to clarify which projects actually qualify, the IRS explained two of the main criteria under which QECB projects are financed. First, QECBs can be issued for “green community programs,” which the IRS defines as programs that promote energy efficiency and provide a general public benefit. Second, QECBs can be issued for projects that reduce energy consumption in publicly owned buildings by at least 20 percent. To provide clarity, the IRS notice explains how buildings qualify as publicly owned as well as how an issuer can measure whether the 20 percent test is satisfied. For more information on the QECB program and its relevant guidelines, read the IRS notice.


 
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Jun 27, 2012

Bricker sets the PACE: Ohio achieves first PACE bond issuance with Bricker & Eckler as bond counsel
 

Bricker & Eckler served as bond counsel for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority as it issued the first PACE bonds in Ohio. On May 24, the port authority completed the $5.325 million bond transaction by issuing bonds through its Northwest Ohio Bond Fund. The transaction, a cooperative effort of the port authority, the port authority’s BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio program and the city of Toledo, was aimed at improving the energy efficiency and environmental performance of Toledo’s municipal buildings. The city of Toledo anticipates reducing its energy costs with the financed improvements, which include replacing windows, upgrading light fixtures and boilers, installing vacancy sensors, and replacing or insulating hot water tanks. 

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bonds are a financial tool used by property owners to fund energy efficiency improvements on their properties. Property owners who take advantage of PACE funding opportunities may use the money for a variety of projects, including updating existing office buildings or warehouses, or acquiring an alternative energy source, like solar panels or wind turbines. 

Bricker & Eckler is Ohio’s leader in PACE financing. Bricker attorneys work with private property owners and governmental entities to create the special improvement district necessary to implement PACE financing, levy assessments and structure the financing arrangements necessary to fund the improvements. For more information, read the full story


 
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May 17, 2012

Friday's clean energy roundtable in Jackson is open to the public
 

The Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership & Public Affairs, together with the Ohio Business Council for a Clean Economy, are hosting a series of roundtables in Appalachia Ohio to discuss how businesses can reduce energy usage and costs by pursuing energy efficiency initiatives and clean energy technologies. The next roundtable will feature three guest speakers and will be at La Rosa'a Pizzeria in Jackson on Friday, May 18, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
 
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May 02, 2012

New report details funding opportunities for local energy efficiency programs
 

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a report, titled "Keeping It in the Community: Sustainable Funding for Local Energy Efficiency Initiatives," that explores a number of funding opportunities that can enable local governments to continue their energy efficiency projects even as federal funding expires. For more, read the summary here.
 
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Apr 16, 2012

Bipartisan poll finds that a majority of Ohioans support clean energy
 

A bipartisan poll conducted in January found that across partisan, gender and geographic subgroups, Ohioans overwhelmingly support policies and political candidates that support clean and renewable energy, and believe clean energy and energy efficiency projects will create jobs for the region, according to a press release from the Ohio Environmental Council. Telephone interviews with 400 Ohio voters found that two-thirds "believe the use of clean, renewable energy should be prioritized over fossil fuels to meet energy needs," the release said. For more, read the full press release here.
 
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Apr 09, 2012

Toledo considers energy efficiency upgrades for government buildings
 

Under a recently changed Ohio state law that allows cities and port authorities to form Energy Special Improvement Districts, Toledo's mayor has proposed $5.3 million in energy efficiency improvements to 40 of the city-owned buildings, radio station 104.7 WIOT reports. Working with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's "Better Buildings" program, the non-profit Toledo Ohio Advanced Energy Improvement Corporation will upgrade the heating and cooling systems, lighting and windows of buildings, including senior centers, fire stations and the downtown police station. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Apr 03, 2012

Environmental advocacy group wants energy efficient buildings
 

The advocacy group Environment Ohio released a study last week that found that improving the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings in the state would reduce the projected energy use of Ohio's buildings 20 percent and would save the average Ohio family of four $340 annually by 2030, according to a press release from the group. The report, "Building a Better America: Saving Energy and Money with Efficiency," says that because "40 percent of the energy used in America goes to heat, cool, and power our buildings," retrofitting and weatherizing existing buildings and constructing new energy efficient buildings in Ohio would prevent emissions equivalent to taking 15 million cars off the road by 2030. For more, read the press release here and the full report here.
 
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Mar 26, 2012

President Obama touts "all-of-the-above" energy policy during Ohio visit
 

During a visit to Columbus last week, President Obama reiterated his position that "the United States can't drill its way to lower gas prices," evidenced by the fact that "America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years" as prices continue to rise, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The president said that while he does support drilling, it will take fuel efficiency programs, as well as solar, wind and other advanced technologies, to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, The Plain Dealer reports. For more, read The Columbus Dispatch story here and The Plain Dealer story here.
 
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Mar 22, 2012

Ohio Senate bill classifies co-generation as renewable energy, energy efficiency
 

Ohio Sen. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) introduced Senate Bill 315, which features a number of energy proposals promoted by Gov. John Kasich, including new regulations governing the development of shale natural gas deposits and a reclassication of co-generation projects. Under the bill, developers of co-generation projects would be able to choose whether to classify the projects as renewable energy or energy efficiency. A full version of the bill 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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Feb 20, 2012

State advocacy group grades Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy progress
 

In its new report, "Ohio's Clean Energy Report Card, Year 2: Wind, Solar, and Energy Efficiency on the Rise," citizen advocacy group Environment Ohio assessed Ohio's progress in achieving standards outlined in Ohio Senate Bill 221, the state's clean energy law enacted in 2008. Although coal-fired plants still make up the vast majority of Ohio's electricity supply, the report concluded that energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy are on the rise – a trend that resulted in the state saving enough electricity during each of the last two years to power 82,000 homes, according to a press release from the organization. For more read the press release here.


 
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Feb 17, 2012

Sixth annual energy and economics conference to take place at The Ohio State University
 

The University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio (UCEAO) will host its sixth annual conference titled "Securing Ohio's Energy and Economic Future" from April 2-3, 2012, at the Blackwell on the campus of The Ohio State University. The conference will feature speakers and panelists discussing renewable energy, research, education, workforce development, energy facility management, energy policy and academic/industry partnerships.

 
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Jan 22, 2012

USDA announces availability of REAP funds
 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that funds are once again available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to complete a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. For 2012, USDA has approximately $25.4 million budget authority available to fund REAP activities, which will support at least $12.5 million in grant and approximately $48.5 million in guaranteed loan program level awards. USDA is accepting the following applications:

  • renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications until March 30, 2012;
  • renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loan only applications on a continuous basis up to June 29, 2012;
  • renewable energy system feasibility study applications through March 30, 2012; and
  • energy audits and renewable energy development assistance applications through Feb. 21, 2012.

A note sent to potential applicants from the USDA Rural Development Office in Columbus, Ohio, indicated that the REAP funds available this year are "reduced substantially" from previous years, increasing the competition for the limited funds available. More information on the REAP program is available here.


 
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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 16, 2012

New report encourages U.S. to "think big" about energy efficiency
 

America is thinking too small on energy efficiency matters, and "crowding out" economically beneficial investments in energy efficiency by focusing on riskier and more expensive bids to develop new energy sources, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Titled "The Long-Term Energy Efficiency Potential: What the Evidence Suggests," the new ACEEE report outlines three scenarios under which the United States could either continue on its current path, or cut energy consumption by the year 2050 almost 60 percent, add nearly two million net jobs, and save energy consumers as much as $400 billion per year. The full report and accompanying materials are available here.


 
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Jan 10, 2012

Ohio Department of Development Launches New Energy Loan Fund
 

The Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Energy recently announced the launch of the Energy Loan Fund program to provide low-cost financing to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The program will utilize more than $7 million in state funding through the Advanced Energy Fund, as well as federal funds through the State Energy Program.

Read more of this article at http://www.bricker.com.
 


 
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Jan 07, 2012

Report highlights new state energy loan fund
 

An article in The Columbus Dispatch highlights the Ohio Department of Development's new Energy Loan Fund, which aims to provide low-cost financing to manufacturers, small businesses and public entities for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Additional details on the new program are available here.


 
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Dec 23, 2011

Update: Ohio Department of Development launches new energy loan fund
 

Following up on a previous post, the Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Energy recently announced the launch of the Energy Loan Fund program to provide low-cost financing to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The program is targeting manufacturers, public entities and small businesses, and is a successor to a grant program funded through the state Advanced Energy Fund that expired at the end of 2010. Additional details about the program are available from Bricker & Eckler LLP.


 
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Dec 04, 2011

Environmental, low-income groups testify in support of state energy efficiency, renewable energy requirements
 

Environmental and low-income groups testified last week at a joint Ohio House and Senate committee hearing in support of the energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements enacted in 2008 as part of Ohio Senate Bill 221. The joint oversight hearing was the most recent held by the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee and Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee regarding state electricity regulation. The Ohio Environmental Council, Natural Resources Defense Council and Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy argued that the energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements have cut consumers' bills, reduced pollution and increased jobs.


 
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Nov 23, 2011

Environmental group profiles Cleveland's "clean economy"
 

A Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) blog is highlighting a "rust busting road trip" to Cleveland to profile the city's "clean economy." The post examines Cleveland's strides in energy-efficient lighting and other technologies. This marks the second time this year (earlier posts available here) that NRDC has visited Ohio to report on the state's leadership in energy efficiency and renewable energy.


 
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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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Oct 25, 2011

Report ranks Ohio 24th in energy efficiency in policy
 

A new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranks Ohio 24th in the country in energy efficiency policy. According to the report, a sour U.S. economy, tight state budgets, and a failure by Congress to adopt a comprehensive energy strategy have not slowed the growing momentum among U.S. states toward increased energy efficiency

The top 10 states in the fifth edition of the ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard are: Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut and Maryland. The Scorecard ranks states based on an array of metrics that capture best practices and recognize leadership in energy efficiency policy and program implementation. The full report is available here.


 
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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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Sep 18, 2011

OAQDA approves financing for Henry County solar plant, Licking County building upgrades
 

The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority ("OAQDA") approved a $5 million loan (pdf required) to Isofoton North America, Inc. to build an 86,000-square-foot solar manufacturing facility in Napoleon, Ohio. Isofoton's first customer, and the driving force behind its decision to locate a plant in Ohio, is the proposed 50-megawatt Turning Point solar project in Southeast Ohio.

OAQDA also authorized $4.7 million in financing (pdf required) for Licking County to retrofit twelve county government buildings with various energy efficiency and conservation systems, including lighting retrofits, building envelope and insulation improvements, and roof and window replacements.


 
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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 15, 2011

Sen. Portman urges passage of bipartisan energy efficiency bill
 

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said a roster of 20 companies that employ "tens of thousands of Ohioans" signed a letter to Senate leaders urging them to take up and support the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC). The bill, authored by Portman and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with strong bipartisan support and awaits floor consideration in the Senate.


 
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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

New bill would require state-supported projects to meet green building, energy efficiency standards
 

Representative Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery) recently introduced a bill in the Ohio General Assembly that would create a new code section requiring that buildings built using state capital funds or moneys from the education facilities trust fund meet certain green building and energy efficiency standards.

House Bill 306 exempts any buildings that are under 5,000 square feet, that cost less than $500,000.00 to construct, or that do not consume energy through heating, ventilation and cooling systems. The bill also includes a waiver provision for projects receiving less than 10 percent of their costs from state funds. House Bill 306 has no Republican co-sponsors and has not yet been assigned to committee. The full text of the bill is available here.


 
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Aug 16, 2011

Federal funds released for advanced automobile technology research and development
 

The Department of Energy recently announced that $175 million in funding is being distributed to encourage research and development that will accelerate the development of advanced automobile technologies such as better fuel, lighter materials and longer lasting batteries. Ohio-based Cooper Tire and Rubber and Goodyear Tire and Rubber are listed among the 40 companies benefitting from the funds.


 
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Jul 25, 2011

Webcast to demonstrate how modified behavior can increase energy efficiency
 

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a webinar designed to tackle the difficult task of modifying community behavior to impact energy use.  The program, titled  "Introduction to Using Community-Wide Behavior Change Programs to Increase Energy Efficiency," is designed for state and local officials.  To learn more about the program or to register, click here.

 
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Jul 11, 2011

Government position turns negative on fuel-cell vehicles
 

According to this article in the Columbus Dispatch, the U.S. government has shifted its stance on fuel-cell vehicles from an embrace to a distinctly cold shoulder. This could pose a problem for the more than 100 Ohio companies involved with fuel-cell technology or hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

In February, the Obama administration proposed a cut of $70 million, or 40 percent, to a hydrogen-technology program in the Department of Energy. The administration also proposed roughly $50 million in cuts for a fuel-cell program. Congress is working on its version of the budget and might restore some of the funding.


 
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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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May 31, 2011

Case Western teams with industry to improve durability of solar, energy efficiency technologies
 

Case Western Reserve University announced that it is teaming up with industry on research to dramatically improve the productive lifetime of solar energy technologies, energy-efficient lighting, roofing, building exteriors and more. The collaboration is receiving help from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission, which recommended a $2.9 million grant to help fund the Solar-Durability and Lifetime Extension Center at Case. Awarded under the Third Frontier Wright Projects Program, the S-DLE Center will include new labs and a sun farm on campus.


 
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May 27, 2011

Environmental groups say utilities' energy efficiency programs have saved Ohio's consumers millions
 

A joint report released by five environmental groups concludes that Ohio utilities saved consumers $56 million between 2009 and 2010 through energy efficiency programs for residential, commercial and industrial properties. The report--a collaboration between Ohio Environmental Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Sierra Club, and the Environmental Law & Policy Center--is part of a broader effort to support the utility renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements that were enacted as part of Ohio Senate Bill 221 in 2008.


 
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May 20, 2011

Renewable resources on the rise in PJM Interconnection region
 

Courtesy of North American Windpower, renewable resources, including demand response and energy efficiency, made up nearly 68 percent of the new capacity available and about 10 percent of the resources clearing PJM Interconnection's recently completed capacity auction. PJM, a regional transmission organization, coordinates and directs the operation of the transmission grid serving 54 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.


 
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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 05, 2011

Senators Call for Continued Investment in Fuel Cells
 

In a recent letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for the Department of Energy’s continued support and investment in fuel cell and hydrogen energy programs. Both senators urged Chu to maintain funding for these two programs because, as they claim, the programs help to expand new clean-energy technology and create jobs.

“These successful energy programs—like the Stark State Fuel Cell Prototyping Center—are critical to Ohio’s economic development and in aiding our nation’s energy independence,” Brown said. “Fuel cell and hydrogen technologies are on the cusp of revolutionizing the way we use energy in Ohio and we should allocate all possible resources to encourage our state’s manufacturers, private sector investors, suppliers, and potential customers to embrace this promising new technology.”

More information can be found on Sen. Sherrod Brown’s website.


 
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Mar 25, 2011

PUCO approves FirstEnergy's three-year energy efficiency plan
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio this week approved FirstEnergy's three-year energy efficiency and peak-demand-reduction portfolio plan. FirstEnergy designed the plan to reduce electricity consumption among customers and meet annual energy efficiency benchmarks established for 2010 to 2012, as reported by Renew Grid magazine.

Ohio Senate Bill 221, enacted in 2008, requires Ohio’s electric utilities to reduce energy demand by 22.2 percent by 2025. FirstEnergy's plan includes a redesigned version of the compact fluorescent light bulb program that was suspended by the PUCO in 2009. The plan also offers incentives to customers who take steps toward increasing energy efficiency. Other coverage of FirstEnergy's plan is available here and here.


 
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Dec 15, 2010

Outgoing PUCO chairman voices support of Ohio's clean energy mandates
 

In an interview with The Associated Press, Ohio's top utility regulator urged Governor-elect John Kasich to keep clean energy standards in place, at least for his first couple of years in office. According to the article, Alan Schriber, set to retire as chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, said a requirement that utilities produce 25 percent of their electricity from solar, wind and other clean energy sources by 2025 deserves time to be tested before Kasich makes any changes to the mandates.


 
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Dec 07, 2010

U.S. Department of Energy investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency exports
 

USDOE Secretary Steven Chu announced an effort to focus on and encourage the exportation of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies to the rest of the world.  The effort is co-chaired by USDOE and the U.S. Department of Commerce.  In addition to traditional industry outreach, trade missions and commercial advocacy, the new initiative will engage in "instrumental market research and discovery that can help focus U.S. government resources for trade promotion."
 
The collaboration is the first of its kind focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency, and will include input from the U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Export-Import Bank of the United States, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the Office of the United States Trade Representative. 
 

 
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Dec 07, 2010

Richard Branson sets tack for fuel efficiency at sea
 

Fast Company reports that the non-profit Carbon War Room, started by Sir Richard Branson, is launching a Web site that compares shipping fleets by size and ranks their fuel efficiency. Shipping Efficiency is set to receive continuing updates from the shipping industry on fuel efficiencies and upgrades.
 
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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 24, 2010

Cleveland, inner-ring suburbs form energy special improvement district
 

A new article by Bricker & Eckler attorneys details how the City of Cleveland and 14 inner-ring suburbs have initiated a unique commercial and industrial program that will help finance advanced energy and energy efficiency projects. The coalition, Cleveland-First Suburbs, is taking advantage of recent changes to Ohio’s special improvement district laws that now allow for financing of energy efficiency improvements, geothermal, wind, biomass or gasification projects -- in addition to solar photovoltaic and solar thermal projects -- through the creation of energy special improvement districts, or Energy SIDs.

According to the article, Energy SIDs have unique characteristics from other, older SIDs: the properties included within an Energy SID do not have to be contiguous and an Energy SID requires the consent of 100 percent of the property owners who will be assessed for the costs of the energy project, which means that participation in an Energy SID is entirely voluntary. The regional Energy SID will allow for qualifying energy projects to be financed according to a uniform plan approved by the participating municipalities. Read the full article here.


 
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Nov 09, 2010

State announces $8.3 million in energy efficiency grant awards
 

The Ohio Department of Development announced that fifteen energy efficiency projects across the state will receive $8.3 million in grant awards funded through a federal stimulus state energy program. Grant recipients include:

  • Cleveland-based CAC Club Ventures, LLC will receive $1 million to replace its antiquated HVAC system with a new energy efficient system that includes water-cooled heat pumps, a cooling tower, and heat exchanger.
  • Columbus-based Easton Town Center II will receive $911,356 to install a comprehensive energy management system allowing for the smart operation of lighting and mechanical equipment throughout the Easton Town Center retail development.
  • Marietta-based Hippodrome/Colony Historical Theatre Association will receive $959,312 to install a water-sourced geothermal heating and cooling system, replace doors and windows, and convert to LED-based lighting at the Colony Theatre.
  • Miamisburg Mound Community Improvement Corporation will receive $261,381 for lighting upgrades, electronic HVAC controls and energy monitoring, tenant metering, and total building energy audits at the Mound Advanced Technology Center.


 
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Oct 26, 2010

Ohio Board of Regents clears way for UC energy efficiency upgrade, Southeast Ohio clean energy educational collaborative
 

The Ohio Board of Regents recently approved the University of Cincinnati's plans to spend $35 million on energy efficiency improvements and renovations. The project will renovate the Aronoff Center, home to the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning; upgrade the energy efficiency of roofs on at least three buildings; and upgrade other major building systems across the campus to make them more efficient. The project will be financed by a 20-year bond issuance.

The Board also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Turning Point Solar, the developer of a 50 MW solar array in Southeast Ohio, to form an educational collaborative to train workers for clean energy jobs. Zane State College and Hocking College, which already have such training programs in place, are likely participants in the collaborative.


 
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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

Columbus to provide $2 million for energy-efficient upgrades
 

 Mayor Michael Coleman has unveiled the Green Columbus Fund and the Green Switch Loan Fund—each backed by $1 million in grant-and-loan funding—to encourage businesses in the city to make energy-efficient upgrades and tackle contaminated brownfield sites.

As recently reported in Business First Columbus, the Green Columbus Fund will give grants of up to $200,000 to companies looking to acquire brownfield sites, make environmental assessments or be reimbursed for LEED certification costs with the U.S. Green Building Council. The loan fund, meanwhile, uses federal dollars to offer low-interest loans capped at the same amount for companies that take on energy efficient construction and renovation projects.

More details about the two funds can be found here.


 
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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 08, 2010

Report: Ohio a national leader in energy efficiency
 

A new report concludes that Ohio's energy efficiency policy is among the best in the country and is working "to accelerate demand for energy efficiency services, businesses, and ultimately jobs." Using a state-by-state analysis of existing policies (including both regulations and investment incentives), as well as market conditions (including energy prices and building stock), the Center for American Progress and Energy Resource Management identified the leading states where smart policies are poised to set the stage for clean energy jobs and the homegrown businesses that will serve this new demand.

Ohio rounded out the top ten states leading in energy efficiency. Ranked ahead of it were Connecticut, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, North Carolina, and New Jersey.


 
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Sep 08, 2010

Clermont County communities form energy special improvement district
 

The Clermont County Communities Energy Special Improvement District (C3ESID) and Melink Corp. announced that Miami Township, Union Township, and the city of Milford have approved the creation of an Energy Special Improvement District (ESID). By allowing property owners to pay for energy improvements to their properties via a bond issue tied to a special assessment on their property tax bill, ESIDs help companies reduce energy costs with no upfront investment. The new SID, the first of its kind in the state, will be limited to commercial property owners and solar photovoltaic systems for the first round of financing, and can be expanded to include other forms of renewable energy or energy efficiency should interest materialize.


 
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Sep 01, 2010

NorTech pushing for advanced-energy industry growth in northeast Ohio
 

NorTech, a nonprofit trying to excite growth in northeast Ohio’s advanced-energy economy, wants to craft growth strategies in four advanced-energy sectors, according to a recent article published in the Cleveland Plain dealer. 

According to NorTech, the following four advanced-energy sectors have the greatest potential for growth in the region:

• Biomass and waste energy—producing energy with plant- or waste-based fuels

• Energy storage—storing energy in batteries and other devices

• Smart grid—using energy more efficiently in the nation’s power grid

• Transportation electrification—powering electric vehicles.

According to the article, the promise of profits from algal-based fuels already has researchers interested, including those from the Ohio Aerospace Institute in Brook Park, the Ohio State University and Cleveland State University.


 
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Aug 25, 2010

Offshore Wind Economic Development Act signed by N.J. governor
 

North American Windpower reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, a bipartisan measure designed to boost economic growth in the state through the development of renewable energy sources and the creation of green jobs.

The legislation will establish an offshore wind renewable energy certification program and will offer financial assistance and tax credits for businesses that construct manufacturing, assemblage and water-access facilities to support the development of qualified offshore wind projects. It also calls for a percentage of electricity sold in the state to be from offshore wind energy. This percentage would be developed to support at least 1,000 MW of generation from qualified offshore wind projects.


 
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Aug 24, 2010

Registration opens for Columbus renewables roadshow
 

Registration is now open for the renewable energy roadshow coming to the Columbus Hyatt Regency on 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.


 
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Aug 18, 2010

Sen. Kerry introduces advanced energy legislation
 

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has introduced legislation that would provide tax incentives for clean energy manufacturing, renewable energy, and conservation. Among other things, the Clean Energy Technology Leadership Act of 2010 would

  • provide additional funding for the advanced energy manufacturing credit and uncap the credit for solar energy property, fuel cell power plans, and advanced energy storage systems, including batteries for advanced vehicles;
  • extend the excise tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel retroactively for 2010 and through 2012;
  • provide an additional $3.5 billion for clean renewable energy bonds; and
  • extend the research and development tax credit retroactively for 2010 and through 2012, and provide an additional 10 percent credit for qualified advanced energy research expenditures.

In a press release announcing the legislation, Sen. Kerry said that while he will continue to press for comprehensive climate and energy legislation, this new bill would help move the country's energy policy in the right direction.


 
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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 16, 2010

UT VP to Speak at White House Clean Energy Economic Forum
 

Dr. Frank Calzonetti, vice president for research and development for The University of Toledo, will be one of a handful of panelists from around the nation appearing at the Clean Energy Economic Forum at the White House today. The only speaker representing higher education at the forum, Calzonetti will join the Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, senior government economic officials, and members of the private sector. Calzonetti will participate in a panel discussion on invention and innovation with John Fernandez, assistant secretary of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and Joyce Ferris, founder and managing partner of investment firm Blue Hill Partners. A second panel on commercialization and competitiveness will follow.


 
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Jul 13, 2010

Brown, Chu announce $5.9 million for energy innovation in Ohio
 

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the award of $5.9 Million in federal grants to advanced energy and energy efficiency projects. The money will be distributed in Central and Northeast Ohio on three different projects:

  • Battelle Memorial Institute, $400K
    For advancements in cooling and heating technologies which could increase air conditioning efficiency by more than 50 percent.
  • ADMA, $3.26 Million
    For dehumidifying research that will lead to efficiencies in cooling technologies.
  • Case Western Reserve University, $2.25 Million
    Capacitor research for increased voltage capacity in hybrid vehicles and consumer electronic.

The $5.9 million funding comes from the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).


 
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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 30, 2010

Business leaders discuss climate legislation at clean energy conference
 

The Columbus Dispatch has an article detailing a clean energy conference held in Columbus this week. Business leaders at the inaugural event--dubbed Innovation Starts Here--discussed the need for a comprehensive and coherent climate and energy policy at the federal level. There conference was sponsored in part by The Ohio Business Council for a Clean Economy, an advocacy group composed of Ohio businesses that support climate legislation.


 
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Jun 23, 2010

Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation to create public database documenting energy efficiency efforts in New York City
 

The philanthropic arm of the global investment bank Deutsche Bank A.G. (Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation) will be funding the creation of a public database that will document the energy savings from hundreds of retrofitted buildings in New York City.  An accompanying report will identify the specific energy efficiency projects (e.g. lighting retrofits, HVAC updates, and window replacements) as well as their respective costs and energy savings.  The goal is that the quantitative data in the report will not only encourage more entities to undertake energy efficiency projects, but to encourage lenders to finance such projects.  For more information, see http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/realestate/commercial/02deutsche.html.


 
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Jun 21, 2010

Northeast Ohio companies work to avoid energy efficiency charge
 

Crain's Cleveland Business has an article (subscription required) detailing the efforts of Northeast Ohio companies to avoid the energy efficiency charge that will soon start appearing on customers' electric bills around the state. The fee, a result of mandates in Ohio Senate Bill 221, enacted in 2008, that requires investor-owned utilities to cut total energy usage by 22 percent over the next 15 years. The article highlights a number of companies that have already received state approval for energy efficiency upgrades that will exempt them from the charge, at least for a while. They are: Progressive Corp., Lubrizol Corp., Automated Packaging Systems Inc., Polychem Corp., and PCC Airfoils LLC.

Despite the potentially drastic increase in energy costs caused by the new charge, many companies are still hesitant to invest in energy efficiency improvements, according to Bricker & Eckler attorney Tom O'Brien, who is quoted in the article. More information on Bricker & Eckler's energy efficiency services is available here.


 
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Jun 14, 2010

ODOD announces latest round of energy efficiency grants
 

The Ohio Department of Development announced that the Ohio Department of Transportation and thirteen higher-education institutions are the latest recipients of the state's federally financed Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.


 
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Jun 14, 2010

Cleveland suburbs plan SID for renewable and advanced energy projects
 

Crain's Cleveland Business has an article this week (subscription required) detailing the efforts of the First Suburbs Consortium Development Council to create a special improvement district ("SID") for Cleveland's inner-ring suburbs that would help property owners finance energy-saving projects for their properties. Those efforts are made possible by the Ohio General Assembly's recent passage of Senate Bill 232, which, among other things, expands the availability of municipal special improvement district ("SID") financing, currently only available for solar projects, to include other renewable and advanced energy projects.

In the article, Bricker & Eckler partner Raymond C. Headen explains how the SID legislation allows private property owners to take advantage of the same type of financing governments use to build and maintain sidewalks, roads, sewers and other basic infrastructure. For more information on the SID component of S.B. 232, visit Bricker's updated SID resources page, available here.


 
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Jun 08, 2010

Youngstown State plans its first solar array
 

Youngstown State University announced plans to install a 10,000-square foot solar array on the roof of Moser Hall, which houses the school's engineering programs. According to a YSU news release, this is the first such installation at YSU and one of the largest of its kind in Northeast Ohio. Installation is expected to take place by late summer or early fall. In addition to its foray into solar power, YSU recently committed to $10 million in energy efficiency upgrades, including more efficient lighting, improved steam traps and insulation, and more efficient chillers. The schools hopes to achieve a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption and savings of $500,000 per year in lighting costs alone. Shaker Heights-based Carbon Vision LLC will coordinate the installation. Carbon Vision's announcement of the project is here. News of the project is here.


 
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Jun 03, 2010

Energy efficiency and "smart grid" charges start appearing on electric bills
 

American Electric Power customers will start seeing a new charge on their electric bills that will help fund the utility's new energy efficiency programs, according to this article in The Columbus Dispatch. The article notes that a typical household in central Ohio using 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month will pay $2.84 per month. All customers, commercial and residential, will pay the fee, which will add up to $162 million over a three-year period. AEP will use the money to fund its energy efficiency programs, created to help customers achieve energy savings through using less electricity. Those programs currently include: 1) appliance recycling; 2) energy efficient lighting; 3) lighting incentives and custom project incentives; 4) a process whereby mercantile customers, which are subject to an increasing rider under 4928.66(A)(1), can pursue their own projects and potentially receive a rider exemption; 5) and 6) two pilot programs through AEP's Partnership With Ohio Fund for energy efficiency kits. Additional details about the monthly charge can be found here. Information on AEP's programs can be found here.

In a related development, Duke Energy Ohio customers will start to see new charges on their bills to pay for "smart grid" technologies the utility is currently deploying. In an order released last month, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved a stipulation between Duke and groups representing some of its customers that established rates for the new charges. According to an article in The (Georgetown) News Democrat, Duke's Ohio residential electric customers will pay 49 cents more per month and natural gas customers will pay 12 cents more per month. The new charges went into effect on May 17. The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel did not sign on to the stipulation because Duke did not provide any assurances about when residential consumers would benefit from the smart grid and "dynamic prices." With dynamic pricing, customers can respond to real-time electricity prices by adjusting their electricity usage throughout the day. A copy of the PUCO order can be found here. A smart grid primer can be found here.


 
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Jun 02, 2010

State continues pumping money into clean energy projects
 

The Columbus Dispatch has an article about the Ohio Department of Development awarding Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants to the City of Powell and Union County. According to the article, Powell will use its $822,000 grant for a five-part project built mostly around putting solar panels on the roof of the municipal building. Union County, meanwhile, will use its $314,800 grant to update the heating and air-conditioning systems in the county courthouse.

The (Elyria) Chronicle-Telegram has an article about Oberlin-based Specialty Energy Services, Inc., which just received a $50,000 Rapid Outreach Grant from the Ohio Department of Development that will allow the company to create 25 jobs and retain 100 positions for manufacturing wind turbines. According to the article, the 1,200-pound, 10-feet-tall vertical turbines have patent-pending, cost-saving technology that allow them to be connected to the generator using fewer parts. The turbines produce only a small amount of energy, but they can also be stacked three or four high, which increases their production.


 
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Jun 02, 2010

OAQDA approves grants to Battelle, ODNR for study of CO2 sequestration
 

With likely federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions on the horizon, the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority approved grants at its May meeting of up to $3 million to study the suitability of Eastern Ohio’s geology for CO2 sequestration. OAQDA approved grants from its Ohio Coal Development Office program to Battelle Memorial Institute of up to $2.2 million, and to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources of up to $800,000.


 
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May 27, 2010

Newest round of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants
 

State, county and local governments and tribal entities who have not previously applied for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants have until June 25, 2010 to submit applications to the newest round of funding.

The program, modeled after existing Community Development Block Grants, allows cities and counties to apply for ARRA money to implement energy efficiency and conservation measures including, but not limited to:

  • City/County-wide energy efficiency audits 
  • Lighting retrofits 
  • Boiler and HVAC updates

Go to http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-12405.pdf or contact Greg Lestini at Bricker & Eckler LLP at glestini@bricker.com for more information.


 
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May 25, 2010

Governor Strickland announces plans for off-shore wind farm in Lake Erie
 

At the American Wind Energy Association's annual trade show in Dallas, Texas, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland announced plans for the placement of five wind turbines in Lake Erie by 2012. This experimental project features a unique partnership between the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo), a non-profit company in Cleveland, and General Electric--and would result in the first operating off-shore wind farm in the United States.

For more information, see http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2010/05/strickland_cleveland_wind_proj.html


 
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May 20, 2010

PUCO approves AEP's energy efficiency and peak demand reduction plans
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has approved, with one modification, American Electric Power's energy efficiency and peak demand reduction program portfolio plans for 2010 through 2012. Under the approved plans, AEP intends to incur costs of $161.9 million over a three-year period to meet the mandate of Ohio Revised Code Section 4928.66(A)(1), which requires electric utilities to achieve energy savings on an accelerating scale through 2025. The Commission authorized AEP to start recovering lost distribution revenue, caused by decreased energy usage, through an additional charge, or rider, on electric bills. However, the Commission determined that the record in the case failed to establish what revenue is necessary to provide AEP with the opportunity to recover its costs and earn a reasonable return. The PUCO, therefore, temporarily granted AEP lost revenue recovery through Jan. 1, 2011. If AEP develops a better quantification of its revenue requirements, the PUCO will consider an extension of the recovery period.    

AEP currently has six portfolio programs in place: 1) appliance recycling; 2) energy efficient lighting; 3) lighting incentives and custom project incentives; 4) a process whereby mercantile customers, which are subject to an increasing rider under 4928.66(A)(1), can pursue their own projects and potentially receive a rider exemption; 5) and 6) two pilot programs through AEP's Partnership With Ohio Fund for energy efficiency kits. Information on AEP's programs can be found here.

AEP filed its portfolio plans together with a stipulation the utility entered into with, among others, the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, Ohio Manufacturers' Association, Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio Hospital Association, and Sierra Club of Ohio. Under the terms of the stipulation, the other signatories can challenge AEP's incentive-based renewable energy credit program and REC purchase program for solar photovoltaic and small wind resources.


 
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May 07, 2010

Wal-Mart and mining magnate go green
 

This month's Forbes magazine has two articles that illustrate just how far the new "green economy" is reaching. The first details how retailing giant Wal-Mart has teamed up with eco-friendly clothing retailer Patagonia to "green" Wal-Mart's supply chain. The second profiles mining magnate Ross Beaty's aggressive move into the geothermal power business.


 
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May 04, 2010

Development Department seeking applications for alternative fuel grants
 

The Ohio Department of Development is soliciting applications for the Alternative Fuel Transportation Grant Program for the purchase and installation of blended biodiesel, blended gasoline refueling and fuel blending stations. The goal of the program is to increase the availability and use of alternative fuels for motor vehicles and to establish these blending facilities in Ohio.

The program is available for:

  • Conversion of existing retail facilities to blended biodiesel or blended gasoline retail facilities;
  • New installation of blended biodiesel or blended gasoline retail facilities; or
  • New installation of blended biodiesel or blended gasoline fuel blending facilities.

The grant award will cover 80 percent of the total eligible project costs or a maximum grant award of $10,000 for conversion retail facilities, $40,000 for installation of new retail facilities, or $200,000 for installation of new blending facilities, whichever is less.


 
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May 03, 2010

Commerce Dept. releases emissions, "green economy" reports
 

Courtesy of the Post Carbon blog at The Washington Post, the U.S. Department of Commerce has released reports analyzing greenhouse gas emissions and the scope of the country's "green economy." According to the Post, the emissions report found that greenhouse gas emissions grew more slowly than the overall economy between 1997 and 2007, indicating that the country was becoming more energy-efficient. In its "green economy" report, the department found that "green" products and services comprised between 1 and 2 percent of the U.S. economy in 2007. The report also found that the United States has between 1.8 million to 2.4 million green jobs.


 
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May 03, 2010

OSU-Battelle joint venture receives $4 million grant
 

In case you missed it, The Columbus Dispatch reported that Ohio State University and Battelle will "share a nearly $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to create a bioreactor to produce butanol, an alternative fuel." The project is one of 37 clean energy projects sharing $106 million in federal grants. A release from the Energy Department noted that the project will use a bioreacter to "incorporate genetically engineered bacteria that metabolize carbon dioxide, oxygen, and hydrogen to produce butanol. The team anticipates at least a twofold productivity improvement over current levels and a cost that can be competitive with gasoline."


 
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