PUCO net-metering hearing will allow opposing sides to voice concerns

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) “will hold a highly unusual hearing on Jan. 10,” with all commissioners present to hear concerns from clean-energy advocates and utility companies about recent changes to net metering rules in Ohio (see our December 7, 2017 blog post), The Columbus Dispatch reports. “Environmental advocates and renewable-energy businesses had strong objections to a provision that reduces the amount of credit a resident can receive for any excess energy” generated, according to the article. Utility companies “had concerns that the ruling would allow home-based systems that are larger than is reasonable for a household or business.” The Sunbury News reports that the oral arguments “are scheduled for Jan. 10, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. at the PUCO Offices, Hearing Room 11-B, 180 E. Broad Street, Columbus,” and will also be webcast live on the PUCO website. For more, read the full Columbus Dispatch and Sunbury News articles. 

Environmental, Renewable Energy

ASHTA Chemicals $100M project will upgrade energy efficiency and environmental friendliness

A chemical products manufacturer in Ashtabula Township “has started work on a $100 million project” to improve its energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, the Star Beacon reports. ASHTA Chemicals makes “chlorine and potassium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid and other chemical products used for water treatment, pharmaceuticals, batteries, industrial cleaners and fertilizers,” according to the article. The company “has been using a mercury cell process to make its products” for decades, but will switch to a “membrane cell technology” process, which will eliminate the use of mercury and reduce energy costs “by about 25 percent.” ASHTA President Brad Westfall said, “[t]his investment will allow us to operate our facility long into the future with significantly improved energy efficiency and increased production capacity,” as well as eliminating the use of mercury. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Manufacturing, Logistics & Transp.

Ohio leads the U.S. in number of LEED-certified schools

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently honored the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) for “assisting more than 300 K-12 buildings across the state to achieve LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certification,” The Sunbury News reports. That number places Ohio ahead of every other state in the country; second-place California has 121 LEED-certified schools, according to the article. Ohio’s LEED-certified schools are “designed, on average, to be 33 percent more energy efficient, reduce potable water consumption by 35 percent, and provide healthier learning environments for children.” In addition, the program has a local economic impact: “through LEED, the OFCC has spent approximately $1.4 billion dollars to purchase products and materials” within 500 miles of each project. For more, read the full article

Energy Efficiency, Environmental

Bird groups join forces to challenge proposed Lake Erie wind turbines

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) are challenging an environmental assessment of the proposed wind turbine project off the shore of Lake Erie (see our August 25, 2017 blog post), the News Herald reports. “The BSBO and the ABC reject the assessment’s claim that the planned Icebreaker wind energy facility would have ‘little to no impact’ on birds and bats,” but instead say the turbines “would pose a significant threat to wildlife,” according to the article. The two groups previously filed a lawsuit against a wind turbine project at Camp Perry (see our July 17, 2017 blog post). Among the concerns the groups listed, they say “[t]he assessment erroneously concludes that migratory birds and bats avoid crossing Lake Erie,” while studies show “large numbers of migratory birds and bats” do fly across the lake. The ABC and BSBO “hope that these concerns will be reflected in any future assessments of the environmental impact of Icebreaker and other proposed offshore wind energy development in the Great Lakes.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Wind

If we build them (recharging stations), 10,000 emissions-free vehicles could come

Columbus currently has “[a] single hydrogen fuel-cell bus,” but a clean fuel collaborative said there could be 10,000 more fuel-cell vehicles in the city if we added more recharging stations, Columbus Business First reports. A report by Renewable Hydrogen Fuel Cell Collaborative said building five additional hydrogen recharging stations in Columbus and Dublin would mean “transit and delivery fleets could add more” of the emissions-free cars, according to the article. The Ohio State University “added a hydrogen fuel-cell bus to its Campus Area Bus System” in March 2017; that bus is on a one-year loan from the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority. Kirt Conrad, CEO of the transit authority, said adding recharging stations is ultimately “about keeping Ohio competitive in the emerging electric vehicle market and making sure we have a leadership role in this emerging industry.” For more, read the full article

Environmental, Manufacturing, Logistics & Transp.

Officials from Lake, Ottawa Counties meet with DOE to discuss impact of nuclear plants on grid stability

Lake and Ottawa county commissioners met with Department of Energy (DOE) staff members recently to discuss “the need for timely intervention” to avoid closure of the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear energy plants in Ohio, among other issues related to the plants, The News-Herald reports. Additional topics included “the Zero Emission Credit legislation currently under discussion in the Ohio legislature” and the nuclear plants’ impact on the electricity grid, according to the article. In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), DOE Secretary Rick Perry said, “America’s greatness depends on a reliable, resilient electric grid powered by an ‘all of the above’ mix of generation sources.” Perry also said the grid’s resiliency is “being threatened by premature retirement of these fuel-secure baseload resources.” “Baseload” refers to nuclear and coal-powered plants, because they use material stored on site, “which reduces the risk of interruptions in fuel supply.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Transmission

Cincinnati mayor’s goal: city government powered with 100% renewable energy

Installing solar arrays that would generate 25 megawatts of energy is the first step in Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley’s plan to eventually power the city government with 100% renewable energy, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. The array, covering 125 to 150 acres (see our October 20, 2017 blog post), “would be the largest onsite municipal solar array in the country,” according to the article. Cranley “believes that by bringing in a private company – which can take advantage of federal tax credits where the government cannot – to build the array, the city will end up paying less for electricity than it does now.” The installation “would provide enough energy to power the city’s parks, recreation, parking, police, fire, health and administration buildings” and “reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 25,000 tons a year . . . the equivalent of taking 5,000 cars off the road.” For more, read the full article

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Solar

Cincinnati’s top ranking for sustainability could help city win Amazon’s HQ2

Site Selection Magazine’s latest rankings could give Cincinnati an edge in the competition for Amazon’s $5-billion second headquarters location search, Cincinnati.com reports. The magazine ranked Cincinnati “No. 1 for environmental sustainability,” which “might be the city’s biggest strength in its competition with leading contenders” to become the home of Amazon’s HQ2. That project is expected to bring “[a]s many as 50,000 high-paying jobs” and “tens of billions in potential investment in the surrounding communities,” according to the article. Amazon “has made environmental sustainability a major priority,” and “last year was the leading corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the United States.” Site Selection highlighted “the University of Cincinnati’s new LEED gold-certified $120 million Carl H. Lindner College of Business” and Proctor & Gamble’s “investment and recycling and eliminating manufacturing waste” as examples of the city’s sustainability agenda. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Sustainability

FirstEnergy says nuclear subsidies are “crucial” for continued operation

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

Environmental, Sustainability, Transmission

Lake Erie 20.7-MW wind turbine project has formal hearing scheduled for November

The Ohio Power Siting Board has scheduled a formal public hearing on the proposed Icebreaker wind turbine project off the shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland.com reports. The board “wants to hear the public’s opinion” of the project; anyone may testify at the November 8 hearing in Cleveland City Council chambers. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will hold an “informational open house” on September 6 at the Lakewood Women’s Club Pavilion. The DOE recently released “a preliminary environmental assessment of the project” that concludes “the project’s construction and operation will have minor or negligible impacts on the lake, on bats, migrating birds and insects,” according to the article. The $126-million demonstration project (see our February 17, 2017 blog post) is expected to employ “more than 500 people” and “pump more than $80 million into the local economy.” For more, read the full article

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Wind
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