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OMA Defends Public Benefit of Pipelines

May 20, 2016

Together with other business interests, the OMA filed an amicus brief in a case now pending before the Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals, in Youngstown.  The OMA urges the Court of Appeals to uphold the ruling of a Harrison County trial court in the case, Sunoco Pipeline v.Carol A. Teter, Trustee.

At issue is when a pipeline developer may invoke Ohio’s eminent domain statute to site the pipeline.  Landowners have challenged Sunoco’s authority to use eminent domain to construct the Mariner East 2 project which will deliver natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale in Ohio to points eastward.

The OMA recognizes that pipelines are the safest, most reliable and cost effective means of transporting petroleum and petroleum products, which contributes to reliable and low-cost energy and raw materials for manufacturers.

AEP Seeks to Extend Rate Plan Until 2024

May 20, 2016

On May 13, AEP filed to extend its current rate plan, asking regulators for approval by September.  The extension request is a component of a broader set of applications requested by AEP with modifications following FERC’s move to block approval of the power purchase agreement cases in late April.

The plan would establish permissible utility charges through 2024 and would add some new riders that the utility can use to fund programs and subsidize certain customers.  Customers cannot avoid non-bypassable charges by shopping.

Read more in this Columbus Dispatch story by Dan Gearino.

PUCO Nominating Council Seeks Applicants for Commissioner Position

May 20, 2016

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Nominating Council is seeking applicants for the position of commissioner of the PUCO to fill the vacancy created by Andre Porter’s resignation.

The PUCO Nominating Council is a broad-based 12-member panel that screens candidates for the position of PUCO commissioner. The PUCO is comprised of five commissioners appointed to rotating, five-year terms by the governor. The commissioners are responsible for regulating Ohio’s investor-owned public utilities.

After reviewing the résumés of all applicants, the Nominating Council will interview and narrow the list to those most qualified for the position, and recommend four finalists to Gov. Kasich.  The governor will have 30 days to either appoint a commissioner from the list or request a new list from the Nominating Council. The governor’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Ohio Senate.

OMA Energy Committee Heads to Akron

May 20, 2016

In response to member interest in more regional opportunities, the OMA Energy Committee will meet in Akron on Wednesday, May 26 from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., and includes lunch.

The meeting will be held at Ariel Corp., 3194 Massillon Rd., Akron, OH 44312.  An optional 45-minute tour of the Ariel Corp. facility follows the meeting.  Ariel has a sophisticated metal machining operation at this location.

In addition, members are invited to a networking dinner the evening prior, Wednesday, May 25, at Bender’s Tavern, 137 Court Ave SW, Canton, OH 44702.

Please register here for in-person or call-in attendance, and dinner option.  Or call us at (800) 662-4463.

PUCO Moves Fast to Grant FirstEnergy Bailout Rehearing

May 13, 2016

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) granted FirstEnergy’s request for a rehearing of its subsidy request (derailed by a ruling of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)).  The PUCO acted before its deadline for parties to file opposition to a rehearing.

The new FirstEnergy proposal would require ratepayers to pay a rider directly to the distribution utility, rather than to the generation affiliate, in an attempt to sidestep FERC oversight.  The rider, if approved, is estimated to cost customers $4 billion over eight years.

FirstEnergy had argued that the previous plan was necessary to keep two plants operating to assure adequate electricity supply.  Under the new plan, the two plants receive no revenue.

The OMA Energy Group will oppose the new plan of FirstEnergy before the PUCO, and, if necessary, at FERC.

New Study: Wholesale Markets Working Well

May 13, 2016

A new study commissioned by PJM, the regional transmission organization serving Ohio, finds that wholesale markets are providing the benefits they were designed for: lower costs, greater efficiencies, innovation, and attraction of cost-effective generation.

The report debunks the claim that wholesale markets are forcing premature retirements of legacy generation units.  It finds that retirement rates are similar in market and regulated areas.

The report warns state policymakers from distorting the effectiveness of the markets with subsidies to interests claiming that the markets aren’t working.

“The simple fact that a generating facility cannot earn sufficient market revenue to cover its going-forward costs does not reasonably lead to the conclusion that wholesale markets are flawed. More likely, it demonstrates that the generating facility is uneconomic,” states the report.

House Bill Freezes Energy Standards Forever

May 13, 2016

Speaker Pro Tem Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) proposes to eliminate Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards in his recently introduced House Bill 554.

Legislation last session froze the standards until January 1, 2017, in order to give the legislature time to study the standards.  If the legislature does not act prior to that date, the standards will go back into effect.

Meanwhile, hearings continue in the Senate on Senate Bill 320, introduced by Senator Bill Seitz (R-Green Township), which would extend the freeze for three years and make multiple changes to Ohio energy law.

Kasich Picks Haque for PUCO Chair

May 13, 2016

This week Governor Kasich named Asim Z. Haque, a member of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) since 2013 and the current vice chair, to serve as chairman of the commission.  Haque will succeed Andre Porter, who recently announced that he would step down as chairman on May 20 to accept a position in the private sector.

Haque was first appointed to the PUCO by Gov. Kasich in June 2013 to complete three years of an unexpired term and recently reappointed by the governor to a full five-year term.  His term will expire in April 2021 and the appointment is subject to the consent of the Ohio Senate.

Haque holds a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry and political science from Case Western Reserve University and a juris doctorate from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

FirstEnergy Doubles Down on Subsidy Demand

May 6, 2016

One week after its proposed “power purchase agreements” (PPAs) were halted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), FirstEnergy filed a new subsidy proposal to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).  The company wants the PUCO to approve it by May 25 so that it can go into effect on June 1.

Essentially walking away from any pretense that its proposal is anything more than a costly bailout, the filing drops the PPAs and any connection to the wholesale markets.  Instead, the subsidies are based on the company’s own past projections of future costs, not actual costs set by the market.

Once again, customers potentially have more than $3 billion over eight years at risk.

Read a good summary of the proposal in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  We’ll have a full analysis for members in a few days.

AEP Accepts FERC Decision

May 6, 2016

AEP this week accepted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision that rescinded a waiver that would have allowed its Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved “power purchase agreement” (PPA) between its distribution utility and its affiated power plants.

The company now is asking the PUCO to approve a PPA only for the power it controls as part of the Ohio Valley Electric Corp. (OVEC) in southern Ohio. OVEC generates 440 megawatts, or less than 15% of the total previously requested by AEP.  OVEC is the only plant owned by the AEP distribution facility (rather than its retail generation affiliate).

AEP has indicated it will continue to push for customer-financed wind and solar projects totalling 900 megawatts, and that it will seek legislative “re-regulation” of generation.