News and Analysis
AEP is approaching the legislature with a proposal to protect its plants from competition. It apparently is seeking to have a bill passed in the first quarter of 2017 that would place surcharges on customers to finance the plants. Customers would not be able to “shop around” the charges.
This is the latest effort by Ohio utilities to distort Ohio’s competitive electricity marketplace, and to deprive consumers of its benefits.
Read more in a story in Columbus Business First.
The OMA Energy Efficiency Peer Network (EEPN) will hold a one-hour webinar on Friday, September 16, from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Measuring & Reporting Energy Savings in Manufacturing Facilities. OMA manufacturing members welcome.
Forty percent of Ohio manufacturers have established energy reduction goals. And increasingly, manufacturers’ suppliers are being asked to set energy goals and to measure and report progress. But with changing production levels, weather, and energy prices, it’s difficult to set, measure, and report on energy savings goals.
This webinar will provide a basis for measuring energy savings while factoring out changes in price, weather, and production.
Our subject matter expert is Dr. Kelly Kissock, Ph.D, P.E., Professor and Chair, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Dayton (UD).
Dr. Kissock has led the UD Industrial Assessment Center for the past 20 years, during which time the center has provided 476 no-cost energy audits to small and medium manufacturers. Dr. Kissock is credited with pioneering the measurement of energy savings in manufacturing facilities. His work is widely regarded and is used by U.S. EPA’s EnergyStar Portfolio Manager as well as the Evaluation Verification Organization, which publishes on energy savings measurement and methods.
Late last month, FirstEnergy announced plans to bolster its finances by issuing $500 million in new stock which will be purchased by the company’s pension fund. At the same time, the company asked regulators to approve a new subsidy request of nearly $9 billion paid by new above-market charges on customer bills. The OMA Energy Group has been opposing the proposal pending at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). A decision could come as soon as September.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on statements made by FirstEnergy CEO Charles Jones in a July 29th investor call indicating that the company’s goal now is to persuade the state to re-regulate electric utilities. Listen to the investor call and hear the CEO describe how FirstEnergy is not succeeding in the competitive generation market.
Re-regulation (meaning taking away customers’ right to shop) would require legislative approval by the Ohio General Assembly and would reverse the deregulated generation market enacted in 1999. Last week, Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) said that any electricity structural reform would be a discussion for the next legislative session that begins in January 2017.
According to the Coalition for the Expansion of Pipeline Infrastructure, of which OMA is a member, “… the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released a final environmental impact statement for the Rover Pipeline, the next step in the process of the federal review process. FERC concluded that construction and operation of the Rover Pipeline will create minimal environmental impacts, which will be effectively mitigated through the extensive planning and coordination enacted by the Rover team.
” … With FERC having concluded its environmental impact statement, the agency now has asked other federal agencies to complete their comments before a certificate can be issued for the project. … The Coalition expects the final certificate for Rover to be issued in the fall of 2016, after which construction will commence. …”
Goldman Sachs this week downgraded FirstEnergy stock from “neutral” to “sell.”
FirstEnergy has a cash problem; at risk is its investment grade bond status. Goldman speculates that the company will need to issue additional stock to raise more than $1 billion.
Meanwhile, FirstEnergy continues to push for a massive bailout by customers. Recently, PUCO staff had recommended a customer-paid, above-market subsidy of $131 million a year for three to five years. In rebuttal testimony this week, FirstEnergy said it needs $558 million a year from customers for the next eight years, or $4.46 billion, to keep an investment grade bond rating.
However, information that surfaced in depositions reveals that FirstEnergy is actually seeking almost double this amount. (See related story.)
This week, in response to a proposal submitted by the Staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, FirstEnergy filed another customer-paid subsidy proposal to the PUCO asking regulators to approve more than $4.46 billion in above-market customer charges over the next eight years as a subsidy to buffer FirstEnergy’s precarious balance sheet.
Energy lawyers participating in the proceedings this week were shocked to learn that in addition to requesting $558 million annually from customers ($4.46 billion over an eight-year term) for credit support for FirstEnergy Corp., FirstEnergy is seeking an additional customer surcharge in exchange for FirstEnergy Corp.’s commitment to maintain its corporate headquarters and nexus of operations in Akron, Ohio. This additional charge could cost customers up to an additional $568 million per year for eight years. If approved, FirstEnergy’s new proposal could cost FirstEnergy’s Ohio distribution customers up to $1.126 billion per year ($558 million + up to $568 million) for eight years.
FirstEnergy testimony states that: “The annual amount would equal the $558 million associated with the credit support of jump-start grid modernization and the additional amount not [to] exceed the economic development value outline[d] by Company witness Sarah Murley arising from having the FirstEnergy Corp. headquarters and nexus of operations in Akron, Ohio.” In her testimony, Ms. Murley quantifies the economic development value at $568 million per year.
The OMA Energy Group has been litigating against unjustified customer paid subsidies. Tom Lause, VP, Treasurer, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., recently testified in opposition to a FirstEnergy aid package proposed by PUCO staff. Contact OMA’s Ryan Augsburger to learn more how your company can support the effort to protect Ohio manufacturing competitiveness.
During both the RNC and DNC conventions, the American Petroleum Institute (API) held opportunities for party leaders to learn more about important domestic energy industry trends.
In conjunction with the RNC convention in Cleveland last week, API described how Ohio natural gas production is up nearly one thousand percent since 2005. The organization also shared statistics detailing how increased natural gas is yielding economic benefits to Ohio.
Mark your calendar to attend the OMA Energy Committee on Thursday, August 25 to hear a number of good energy topics including:
- Exxon Mobil 50 year energy forecast
- Updates on PUCO cases that affect your cost of electricity, including FirstEnergy’s pending proposals
- Best energy management practices
- Electricity & natural gas market reports
You can come in person (the meeting will be held at the OMA office and includes a nice lunch) or via call-in.
There is no charge; register here.
Whereas PUCO staff has recommended denial of FirstEnergy’s rider proposal, a “virtual” power purchase agreement that could cost customers $3.6 billion, staff has recommended the creation of a “distribution modernization rider” that would allow FirstEnergy to annually recover $131 million per year from customers over the next three years, with a potential two year extension.
One of the stated purposes of staff’s proposal is to enable FirstEnergy to maintain an investment grade rating.
Testifying before the PUCO last week on behalf of the OMA Energy Group, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. Vice President, Treasurer, Tom Lause, said: “… The corporate bailout proposed by Staff will actually diminish diversity of supply and suppliers and limit consumers’ effective choices over the selection of those supplies and suppliers over the longer term. … The Commission should allow the competitive markets to work and not provide competitive advantages to certain generators.
“… Currently, it is my understanding that there are significant new generation resources scheduled to come online and a healthy capacity reserve margin in the PJM market; therefore, there is no need to raise funds to support one generator’s business over another.
“… Rather than receive a bailout from customers under the Staff’s Proposal, FirstEnergy Corp., similar to all other public companies, should be required to consider and make financial business decisions that would allow it to sustain an investment grade credit rating. …”
This week the OMA Energy Efficiency Peer Network (EEPN) visited The Dannon Company and the Village of Minster solar field to see innovative energy efficiency installations.
If you’d be interested in participating in future plant tours and other EEPN activities, click here. Manufacturing members are invited and there is no charge.