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

Wind turbine at landmark New Philadelphia hotel to begin operating this month

A newly installed wind turbine at New Philadelphia’s Schoenbrunn Inn and Conference Center is expected to begin generating electricity this month, according to a recent article in The Times-Reporter. Sam Courtney, installation supervisor for Wind Turbines of Ohio, LLC, said the wind turbine is “expected to generate an average of 250 to 300 kilowatts of electricity daily,” the article reports. Courtney said turbines like the one installed at Schoenbrunn Inn “cost about $600,000 after tax credits and other incentives,” with an estimated payback period of “nine to 11 years.” The equipment is projected to have 20 to 25 years of useful life. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Wind

Ohio legislature again pursues changes to wind turbine restrictions with SB 238

Another legislative effort “to revive wind farm development in Ohio” is underway in the Ohio Senate, with Sen. Matt Dolan’s introduction of Senate Bill 238 (SB 238), Cleveland.com reports. Similar to SB 188 proposed earlier this year (see our September 28, 2017 blog post), under SB 238, “property line minimum setback distances to adjoining properties would be based on the height of a turbine and the length of its blades,” according to the article. Legislation passed in 2014 requires turbines to be 1,125 feet from the nearest property line (see our June 18, 2014 blog post), a limitation that wind-energy advocates say is “so restrictive that few, if any, new wind farms are likely to be built” in Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Cleveland.com reports that SB 238 references a portion of Ohio tax code that “already gives county governments a good deal of control over wind development” through negotiated “payment in lieu of taxes,” which makes the need for the 2014 state rules “questionable.” For more, read the full Cleveland.com and Dispatch articles. 

Renewable Energy, Wind

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

New Concord adopts solar-related ordinance, proposes another for wind energy

New Concord’s Village Council has adopted “an ordinance modifying the zoning code” that will “pave the way for the construction of a solar array at the Garland Commons development,” The Daily Jeff reports. Additionally, the council “is considering an ordinance that would green light the construction of wind turbines at the site,” according to the article. While New Concord already had zoning language that permitted some solar systems, the modifications “will allow for conditional use of solar arrays a little larger” than previously permitted, Councilman Bil Kerrigan said. There are no current provisions for wind turbines, so the council will “offer three readings” of that ordinance to allow time for public comment. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind

Whirlpool adding wind turbines at Greenville plant

Whirlpool Corp. is adding to its on-site wind energy power already in use at its manufacturing facilities in Marion, Findlay, and Ottawa (see our November 16, 2016 blog post for more), with the announcement that the company will build three new turbines at its Greenville plant, the Dayton Daily News reports. The Greenville turbines “will generate more than 12 million kilowatt hours annually to offset approximately 70 percent of the plant’s electricity consumption,” the article reports. Additionally, Whirlpool said the wind farms will make the company “one of the largest users of on-site wind energy of any Fortune 500 company in the United States.” For more, read the full article

Manufacturing, Logistics & Transp., Renewable Energy, Wind

Will Icebreaker be epicenter of North American wind industry or bird killer?

Supporters and opponents of the Lake Erie Icebreaker Wind project voiced their opinions at a recent hearing before two administrative law judges, Cleveland.com reports. Of the approximately 150 people in attendance, supporters “comprised the clear majority,” according to the article. Dennis Meaney, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 38 business manager, said, “Icebreaker can help make Northeast Ohio the epicenter of the wind industry in North America.” Additionally, “[n]early a dozen business representatives spoke in support of the economic benefits” of the project, which could “create more than 500 jobs, add $168 million to the region’s economy, and cheap green electricity for decades.” Leading the argument against Icebreaker was Kimberly Kaufman, executive director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, the group that “successfully blocked the construction” of Camp Perry’s proposed wind turbine (see our July 17, 2017 blog post). For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Wind

Financing for 100-MW Northwest Ohio Wind Project finalized

A $200-million project that will add “about 40 new wind turbines” in Paulding County will sell 100% of its energy output to General Motors, Paulding Progress reports. Starwood Energy Group Global LLC, “a leading private investment firm focused on energy infrastructure,” recently announced “it has finalized agreements to finance and construct the 100-megawatt (MW) Northwest Ohio Wind Project,” according to the article. An “affiliate of Citi has committed to provide tax equity for the project” which “is contracted to sell 100 percent of its output to General Motors pursuant to a long-term power purchase agreement.” Citi’s global head of alternative energy finance, Marshal Salant, said the “innovative partnership highlights Citi’s commitment to sustainable growth and to financing the development of clean renewable energy infrastructure.” For more, read the full article

Project Finance, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Wind

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

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
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