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

Icebreaker wind project “clears regulatory hurdle,” taking “major step forward”

The first freshwater wind farm “took a major step forward” to becoming reality as the Ohio Power Siting Board issued a letter saying Icebreaker Windpower Inc.’s application to build the project is now complete, CompositesWorld reports. The application for the “six-turbine, 20.7-MW demonstration project” to be located 8-10 miles northwest of Cleveland will now be processed. Dr. Lorry Wagner, president of Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), said, “[w]e are confident that our application demonstrates conclusively” that Icebreaker “will not only have minimal adverse impact on fish and wildlife but will also create jobs, boost the local and regional economy and provide a local source of clean energy.” Cleveland.com reports that the goal of the $126-million project is “to prove it can be done and can stand up to shifting lake ice, opening the door to large future developments.” For more, read the full CompositesWorld and Cleveland.com articles. 

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Wind

O’Bleness Hospital’s energy efficient lighting upgrade provides multiple benefits

A “major overhaul” of OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital’s lighting system will not only save money on energy costs, but also improve safety and sustainability, The Athens Messenger reports. The hospital converted all of its lights to light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures that will use one-third of the energy conventional lights use, according to the article. O’Bleness President Mark Seckinger said the upgrade will not only lower energy costs, but also improve the facility for patients, enhance campus safety and “allow us to be responsible environmental stewards.” The conversion to LED lights “will prevent 775 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere,” an amount equal to what a passenger vehicle would produce driving 1.8 million miles. It is estimated that “the parking lot will become 50 percent brighter at night,” increasing visibility for staff, patients and visitors. For more, read the full article

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Sustainability

House follows Senate with bill calling for 100% clean energy by 2050

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate now have proposed versions of a “landmark” bill calling for the United States to transition from fossil fuels to “100% clean energy no later than 2050,” nawindpower.com reports. The House’s “100 by ’50 Act,” like the Senate bill, has seven core components: Greening the Grid, Electrifying the Energy Economy, Clean and Renewable Energy for All, Just Transition for Workers, Ending New Fossil Fuel Investments, Ensuring American Competitiveness, and Mobilizing American Resources. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), sponsor of the House bill, said in a press release, “[t]o remain a global economic leader, we must invest in renewable energy technology and fully embrace a cleaner, carbon-free future.” The National Congress of American Indians, Environment America and the Sierra Club all expressed support for the bill. For more, read the full article.

 

Environmental, Federal Climate Legislation, Renewable Energy

Energy Works and Finance Authority partner to offer green energy financing

Two local programs are working together to promote sustainability by offering low-interest loans to Franklin County businesses, non-profit organizations and local governments for green energy upgrades. Franklin County Commissioners established Energy Works in 2015 to help keep Columbus green and attract new businesses. The Commissioners plan to commit $1.5 million annually for five years for energy upgrades to aging buildings as well as other green energy projects. The Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority’s Energy Loan Fund is an economic development tool providing financing for energy efficiency improvements. The Finance Authority uses funds from Energy Works as well as its own funds to provide low-interest loans ranging from $200,000 to $6 million for projects such as PNC Plaza’s (see our March 17, 2016 blog post) and Trinity Lutheran Seminary’s energy upgrades.

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Project Finance, Sustainability

Hudson considers adding solar panels to its electricity provider portfolio

The City of Hudson already “has solar panels on city-owned property . . . but could have a much larger solar presence” if a proposed project is finalized, the Hudson Hub-Times reports. Hudson’s electrical power consultant shared with City Council “a possible new solar project” that the “city could take part in to help with high peak energy days,” according to the article. John Courtney of Courtney & Associates, Hudson’s electric system consultant for Hudson Public Power (HPP), said a developer “could build and operate a Behind-The-Meter solar project for a municipality.” The city would pay only for the electrical power produced and “delivered to the city’s power grid.” Council member Casey Weinstein called the project “a great opportunity,” saying the city would “deliver power savings to HPP customers” while utilizing property “not suited for other development and contributing to keeping our air cleaner for our families.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission

Cuyahoga County joins Compact of Mayors to combat climate change

Cuyahoga County has joined “the world’s largest cooperative effort among local government leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, track progress, and prepare for the impacts of climate change,” Cleveland.com reports. Cleveland is one of 140 cities in the United States to join the Compact of Mayors, which “includes 658 cities worldwide,” according to the article. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said, “[w]e must do all we can to protect the health of the citizens of our county, both today and into the future.” Over the next six months, Cuyahoga County will “measure in detail the greenhouse gases that come out of the county ‘and work with partner agencies and governments including the City of Cleveland to set greenhouse gas reduction levels, strategies to achieve the goals and ways for our local region to deal with the issues that Climate Change presents to us,’” said Mike Foley, the county’s Director of Sustainability director. For more, read the full article

Environmental, Sustainability

Camp Perry wind turbine project “no longer moving forward”

Plans for a wind turbine at Camp Perry have been dropped in response to a lawsuit from two bird conservancy groups, the News Herald reports. Originally proposed in 2012, the $1.5-million wind turbine project was already halted once when the American Bird Conservatory and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory sent notice that they would file a lawsuit unless the military ceased its plans for the project. Last year, the Ohio Air National Guard then revived the project.
 
Now, however, the American Bird Conservatory and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court (see our March 20, 2017 blog post), arguing that “the project violated the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws.” The National Guard Bureau then responded to the lawsuit in June, informing the groups that the Air National Guard will “no longer be pursuing the construction of the turbine.” The conservancy groups “subsequently agreed to drop the lawsuit.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy, Wind

Closing nuclear plants may cause carbon emissions to rise

The abundant supply of inexpensive natural gas has helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade, but that trend could reverse as nuclear plants are pushed into retirement, The New York Times reports. The gas boom has “driven hundreds of dirtier coal plants” out of business, “a big reason carbon dioxide emissions fell 14 percent from 2005 to 2016,” according to the article. However, nuclear power plants, which nationwide supply “one-fifth of the country’s electricity without generating any planet-warming greenhouses gases,” are having trouble competing with low-cost natural gas power plants. Six nuclear plants “have announced that they will close between now and 2025”; together, those plants generated “nearly 60 million megawatt-hours of electricity last year, more than all of America’s solar panels combined.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Transmission
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