Litigation may decide future of Lordstown’s second $900M power plant

Will the $900-million Lordstown Energy Center power plant stand alone, or be joined by a second planned facility, the Trumbull Energy Center? Legal action may decide, The Vindicator reports. In October 2017, the Ohio Power Siting Board granted permission for the Trumbull Energy Center to be built (see our October 13, 2017 blog post). The Trumbull Energy Center builder, Clean Energy Future (CEF), has filed suit in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court “asking a judge to enforce agreements Clean Energy Future and its president William Siderewicz signed with Clean Energy Future Lordstown [CEF-Lordstown],” the owner of Lordstown Energy Center, according to the article. The litigation states that CEF-Lordstown “is delaying a decision on whether to sign off on Clean Energy Future being allowed to construct the second plant.” CEF-Lordstown “said the reason for the delay is to conduct a months-long study to determine the impact the second plant would have on the first plant.” For more, read the full article.

Transmission

Net metering rules: reasonable limitations or detrimental restrictions? PUCO hears both sides

An uncommon opportunity for “utilities, environmental groups and other stakeholders” to testify before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) elicited diverse opinions on the PUCO’s recent changes to net metering rules in Ohio, Gongwer Ohio reports. The new net metering rules may reduce the amount of credit that net metering customers receive for power returned to the grid (see our November 15, 2017 blog post). PUCO Chairman Asim Haque said the direct feedback at the January 10 hearing (see our January 9, 2018 blog post) was “extraordinarily helpful.” FirstEnergy, American Electric Power, and Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) all expressed support for the new rules. In particular, DP&L counsel Michael Schuler argued that the rules “strike a delicate balance that both encourages the development of distributed generation . . . while also ensuring reasonable limits to ensure safe and reliable service.” Environmental groups, however, “suggested the rules could be detrimental to those who have already installed solar or wind energy by not crediting them for their existing value.”

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission, Wind

Davis-Besse plant decision will have major economic impact on Ottawa County

Whether or not closing Ottawa County’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station would harm grid reliability (see our July 3, 2017 blog post), the economic impact of shutting down the plant could be dramatic, the Port Clinton News Herald reports. A 2015 Nuclear Energy Institute economic study of the Davis-Besse plant shows its operation “generates $805 million of annual economic output in Ottawa County and $1.1 billion statewide,” according to the article. Davis-Besse currently employs 700 people at an average annual salary of approximately $86,000, and the plant’s activities “support 3,600 other full-time jobs statewide.” County economic development director Jamie Beier Grant and Ottawa County Commissioner Mark Stahl “have made two trips to Washington D.C. to meet with federal officials in hopes of getting some federal help” to keep the plant running (see our October 25, 2017 blog post). For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Transmission

FirstEnergy proposes up to 2 percent rate hike for grid improvements

FirstEnergy wants to make $450 million in grid improvements, and the utility is asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to approve an electricity rate increase of up to 2 percent to fund that work, Cleveland.com reports. Doug Colafella, a spokesperson for FirstEnergy, said the utility “will improve power lines that have had extended power outages in the past,” using new technology that “would allow workers to isolate the outages, restore electricity to nearby customers and then repair the affected lines,” according to the article. The increase would be lower in the first year and gradually rise over three years. Improvements are also needed to modernize electrical distribution for “smart grid” capabilities including “smart meters informing customers how much energy they are using throughout the day.” For more, read the full article

Transmission

Critics say PJM pricing system could “prop up” nuclear and coal-fired plants in Ohio

Proposed changes to PJM Interconnection’s energy pricing system “could reward coal and nuclear plants in Ohio” and raise prices for consumers, critics say, according to a recent MidwestEnergyNews.com article. PJM’s plan “would basically let coal and nuclear power plants take part in the process for setting the price of electricity in the wholesale market,” something they currently are not permitted to do “because they can’t ramp up quickly and generally must produce large chunks of electricity, rather than incremental amounts,” according to the article. The formula PJM has been using for the past couple decades “looks at both where a resource is and what its costs are for supplying increments of electricity needed in the region.” In a November 15 report, PJM noted “some generation sources, such as wind, can now have a zero marginal cost,” while the falling price of natural gas also lowers marginal costs for plants that use it for fuel. Stu Bresler, PJM vice president, said the “new pricing plan would be ‘more reflective of all the costs that are necessary to serve the demands on the system.’” For more, read the full article.

Transmission, Wind

Will PUCO’s new net metering rules hinder solar’s growth in Ohio?

Environmental advocates are concerned about Ohio’s new net metering rules that change “how utilities compensate customers who supply their own excess generation to the grid,” MidwestEnergyNews.com reports. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) released the new rules, which “would not credit customers with the ‘capacity’ portion of their overall rate” for that excess generation, but would credit them “just the energy-only portion . . . about 85 percent of the bundled rate,” according to the article. This change represents “a shift from the PUCO’s previous position”; in 2014, the PUCO “moved to require utilities to compensate net metering customers for the full retail rate.” The new rules also could “discourage customers from shopping for competitive rates or switching electricity suppliers,” because they “provide only for credits against future charges, rather than direct payment of amounts due.” Customers who shop for a different supplier would risk losing the value of credits they’ve earned. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission

PUCO ruling likely to reduce credits to net metering customers

Some Ohio electric utility customers who generate power through solar panels or other renewable energy systems may soon receive less credit for doing so, The Columbus Dispatch reports. A recent Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) ruling is likely to reduce the amount that electric utilities credit their net metering customers who send excess energy back to the grid. Under the revised regulations, credits for excess generation will be calculated based on the energy-only component of the utility’s standard service offer. That change means the credit to AEP customers, for example, could “be reduced by about 30 percent.” Trish Demeter, vice president for policy at the Ohio Environmental Council, called the ruling “a step back.” For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission

Solar, wind, and natural gas groups unite to oppose DOE proposal to support coal and nuclear plants

An alliance of 20 trade organizations representing wind, natural gas, and solar power industries is voicing opposition to the Department of Energy (DOE)’s proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants, Cleveland.com reports. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal “argues that the large, old coal and nuclear plants, which run 24 hours a day, add ‘resiliency’ to the grid” that protects it during weather disruptions or terrorist attacks, according to the article. The trade groups counter that the Trump administration has not demonstrated “problems with the existing system,” and that the proposal would increase costs to consumers. The Ohio Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has also criticized the DOE plan (see our November 2, 2017 blog post). For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission, Wind

PUCO opposes U.S. Energy Secretary’s proposed subsidies for coal-fired and nuclear plants

Ohio utility regulators “have come out against” U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to subsidize nuclear and coal-fired power plants, saying that plan would cost the state’s electricity consumers billions, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Sec. Perry’s proposal “would create incentives for power plants that have their fuel on site, which would cover coal and nuclear but not other major fuels, such as natural gas and most renewables,” according to the article. Perry said, “[a] reliable and resilient electrical grid is critical not only to our national and economic security, but also to the everyday lives of American families.” The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) estimated the subsidies would cost $8.1 billion; PUCO issued a formal response saying it is “deeply concerned” about that high cost to consumers. For more, read the full article

Transmission

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
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