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Renewable energy tax credits making huge impact on U.S. jobs, economy
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says federal tax credit extensions for wind and solar power are creating “huge gains” for U.S. employment and the gross domestic product (GDP), nawindpower.com reports. The nonprofit NRDC “analyzed the impact of the tax credits” for wind and solar that Congress extended at the end of 2015. The group published its findings in a report that shows “Ohio will add more than 10,000 jobs in 2018, and the state’s GDP is expected to get a boost of nearly $1.2 billion that year.” Kevin Steinberger, policy analyst in the group’s Climate and Clean Air Program, said, “[g]ood tax policies to boost wind and solar projects are creating new jobs, growing our economy, and providing climate and public health benefits.” For more, read the full article.
Anheuser-Busch commits to 100% renewable energy by 2025
The world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, “has announced a commitment to secure 100% of the company’s purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025,” nawindpower.com reports. AB InBev “expects to secure 75%–85% of electricity through direct power purchase agreements” and the final 15%–25% from “on-site technologies such as solar panels.” AB InBev’s commitment to 100% renewable electricity will make it “the largest corporate direct purchaser of renewable electricity in the consumer goods sector globally and will reduce the company’s operational carbon footprint by 30%.” This reduction is “the equivalent of taking nearly 500,000 cars off the road.”
This recent announcement is in line with Anheuser-Busch’s previous commitments to sustainability and efficiency, including its previous $18 million update to the Columbus brewery (see our July 1, 2015 blog post). For more, read the full article.
Second attempt to repeal renewable energy standards passes Ohio House
After Governor John Kasich vetoed a previous bill that would have drastically weakened clean energy standards in the state (see our January 12, 2017 blog post), a second bill to repeal renewable energy mandates has passed the House, UtilityDive reports. House Bill 114 (HB 114) now goes to the Senate; some changes from the previous bill include “limiting the amount ratepayers will pay for energy efficiency profits that accrue to the utility,” according to the article. Cleveland.com reports that HB 114 “makes the renewable energy mandates voluntary goals and completely erases them from law in 2026” (see our March 23, 2017 blog post) and “dilutes the requirement that traditional electric utilities reduce peak demand by developing energy efficiency programs for their customers.” For more, read the full UtilityDive and Cleveland.com articles.
What does repeal of the Clean Power Plan mean for the environment?
President Trump recently signed an executive order rescinding the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) (see our June 9, 2014 blog post), a move that eliminates the nation’s first mandate for power plants to reduce carbon emissions. Without that mandate, “America’s electrical power industry could continue to emit high levels of CO2,” according to Ken Kimmell, president of science advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, in a recent CBSnews.com article. The CPP would have helped the nation move toward “cleaner sources, like [natural] gas, and even really clean sources, like renewable energy, such as wind and solar,” which would provide “significant health benefits,” Kimmell said in the article. Cleveland.com reports that White House spokesman Sean Spicer said dismantling the CPP will “strengthen the nation’s energy security by ‘reducing unnecessary regulatory obstacles that restrict the responsible use of domestic energy resources.’” For more, read the full CBSnews.com and Cleveland.com articles.
Birding groups file lawsuit to block Camp Perry wind turbine
The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) have filed a 31-page lawsuit in a U.S. District Court, asking the court “to block construction of a large wind turbine at Camp Perry near Lake Erie,” Cleveland.com reports. The two groups “are asking the court the halt the project until the National Guard obtains the proper permits and conducts environmental impact assessments required by the Endangered Species Act,” according to the article. The BSBO and ABC “successfully halted construction of the 600-kilowatt wind turbine” in 2014 after “determining the Air National Guard had failed to obtain the proper certificates.” Subsequently, the National Guard “completed an environmental assessment and obtained permission from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,” which the birding groups “maintain are inadequate.” In October 2016, the groups announced their intent to file the lawsuit if the Air National Guard did not halt their plans to build the turbine (see our November 22, 2016 blog post). For more, read the full article.
State legislators introduce second bill aimed at making energy mandates optional
Ohio Republicans “have introduced a bill to gut the state’s renewable energy standards,” Columbus Business First reports. Current law requires utilities “to supply 12.5 percent of their power with alternative energy by 2027.” Utilities that fail to comply with those standards will be required to make compliance payments. If passed, House Bill 114 (HB 114), however, will transition those mandates into voluntary goals.
UtilityDive reports that HB 114 would also “permit customers who shop on the retail market to ‘opt out of paying any rider, charge, or other cost recovery mechanism’ designed to pay for utility electricity from renewable resources.” This opt-out provision is “reportedly a response to [American Electric Power’s] plans to construct 900 megawatts of renewable energy” (see our May 24, 2016 blog post). For more, read the full Columbus Business First and UtilityDive articles.
PUCO announces "grid modernization" initiative
At its March 8, 2017, meeting, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) formally unveiled its grid modernization initiative, referred to as “PowerForward.” As the described by the commission:
PowerForward is the PUCO’s review of the latest in technological and regulatory innovation that could serve to enhance the consumer electricity experience. Through this series, we intend to chart a clear path forward for future grid modernization projects, innovative regulations and forward-thinking policies.
For more, read the full article.
Buckeye Wind case goes to Ohio Supreme Court
The Ohio Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on an extension of certificate for the Buckeye Wind turbine project, the Urbana Citizen reports. The issue currently before the Ohio Supreme Court is whether a motion for extension constitutes an amendment to the original Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) certificate. Buckeye Wind attorney Michael Settineri “said nothing has changed in the project facility from when the board approved the amendment to Buckeye I through the motion for extension.” Settineri notes, for example, that “the turbines [are] in the same location and the setbacks remain the same.” By contrast, Jack Van Kley, an attorney for Union Neighbors United, argues that the extension is a substantive change that necessitates a re-evaluation of the project pursuant to current safety regulations. For more, read the full article.
For the first time, wind is U.S.’s top source of renewable energy capacity
Wind energy “grew at its second-fastest pace ever during the last three months of 2016,” passing conventional hydropower to “become the largest source of renewable electricity capacity in the U.S.,” according to a study by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), The Hill reports. AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said in a statement, “American wind power is now the number one source of renewable capacity, thanks to more than 100,000 wind workers across all 50 states.” This U.S.-made “clean energy resource helps rural communities pay for new roads, bridges, and schools, while bringing back manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt.” According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “wind power accounted for 4.7 percent of electricity generation in the United States” at the end of 2015; AWEA expects wind power will account for “10 percent of the U.S.’s electricity by 2020.” For more, read the full article.
Ohio gained more than 1,000 solar industry jobs last year
A new report from The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit promoter of solar energy, found that “Ohio’s solar industry added more than 1,000 jobs last year,” Columbus Business First reports. According to the report, “Ohio’s solar industry rose to 5,831 jobs from 4,811 in 2015, a 21 percent increase.” Nationwide, solar employment increased 25 percent, and 44 states saw an increase in solar jobs last year. A solar job “is one in which an employee spends at least half of their time on work related to the renewable energy source.” For more, read the full article.