News and Analysis
Last week, Governor Kasich announced the appointment of Thomas W. Johnson of Upper Arlington (Franklin Co.) to chair the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) effective April 11. Johnson will replace current PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler who announced in January his decision to step down at the end of his term. Johnson’s term will expire April 10, 2019, and the appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the Ohio Senate.
A native of New Concord in Muskingum County, Johnson spent 22 years in the Ohio House of Representatives representing all or parts of Athens, Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Washington Counties. Currently, Johnson is president of the consulting firm Ohio Strategic Advocacy Partners.
Last week Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) reintroduced their version of energy-efficiency legislation—the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. The latest version adds additional bipartisan provisions to encourage greater energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings, industrial facilities, and federal government agencies. None of these provisions contain government mandates or increase spending.
Meanwhile, efforts to promote energy efficiency enjoy support among key political demographics, according to a poll released last week by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Manufacturers.
The poll of 1,000 likely voters found that 9 in 10 voters support energy efficiency as a key part of the solution addressing our energy challenges. Results showed a desire for greater adoption of efficient technologies throughout our economy, including the federal government, where tax dollars can be saved.
And, among other results, 74% support investing taxpayers’ dollars on energy efficiency technologies, innovations and programs if it would save consumers more money. The majority support cuts across political lines: Republicans (63% to 33%), Democrats (91% to 6%), and Independents (68% to 29%). See all results.
This week the OMA Energy Group (OMAEG), an organization of the OMA created to monitor activity of and intervene in Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) cases on behalf of manufacturers, submitted comments on amendments to the PUCO energy efficiency (EE) regulations that PUCO staff proposed.
OMAEG’s comments stressed the importance of customers retaining the ability to challenge electric utilities’ claimed shared savings and lost distribution revenues in the context of the program portfolio proceedings.
Despite proposals by staff to move from a pre-approval process to a “post-approval scenario” for portfolio programs, OMAEG asserted that moving away from a pre-approval process significantly curtails the ability of utility customers to meaningfully participate in the process.
OMAEG’s comments also stress the importance of rules that protect the right of mercantile customers who have engaged in self-direct EE projects to retain the EE attributes of their projects when committing savings from those projects to electric utilities.
Further, OMAEG’s comments contend that the $0.005/kwh incentive for CHP projects set forth in the proposed rules is far too meager an incentive to meaningfully encourage CHP development in Ohio. Here’s a summary of OMAEG’s comments and the full comments.
OMA members in FirstEnergy territory considering energy efficiency programs in 2014 might be interested to learn of a couple new opportunities FirstEnergy has added to its energy efficiency rebate program lineup.
There is now a “large” audit program that will rebate up to 50% of the cost of an energy audit, with no maximum, plus $.01/kWh saved from implemented measures (for customers on rate codes GP, GSU, and GT).
And there is a new “retro-commissioning” project that will pay $.03/kWh saved, up to 50% of the total project cost. Potential qualifying projects include, but are not limited to: adjustments to lighting and HVAC equipment operating schedules; adjustments of HVAC temperature set points; central plant optimization; and, compressed air leak loss detection/inappropriate uses of compressed air, such as open blowing.
OMA has engaged the energy engineering firm of Go Sustainable Energy LLC to assist members with all things energy efficiency. If you interested in pursuing a project, or have implemented energy efficiency measures and not received a rebate, please contact John Seryak to see how to optimize your investment.
When applying for FirstEnergy efficiency programs, use administrator code 50941 in order for OMA to receive credit from FirstEnergy without reducing your rebate.
This week, Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs disseminated the results of its Ohio Shale Development Community Impact Survey which investigates the impact shale development is having within 17 counties in eastern Ohio.
This research has assessed ongoing shale development activities and their influence on population, housing, public safety, infrastructure, environment, local employment, area business activity, and economic development. Survey respondents are local officials from the 17 target counties.
Across all local officials surveyed, 61.4% reported positive impacts, 25.7% reported that shale had resulted in no changes to their service area, and only 7.8% indicated that the impact had been negative.
The report is the first data release in what is anticipated to be a longitudinal study of the impact of shale development activities in eastern Ohio.
This week the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) launched a new website for consumers, “Energy Choice Ohio.” The site was developed to help residential and small business consumers shop for competitive electric and natural gas supplier offerings and contract terms.