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News and Analysis

U.S. EPA Out of Sync with Voters

October 24, 2014

The Partnership for a Better Energy Future (PBEF), of which OMA is a member, commissioned a nationwide survey of 1,340 likely voters about the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which proposes to reduce power plant carbon emissions.

Among the findings:

  • A plurality of voters are opposed to the EPA regulations: 47% of voters oppose the regulations, with 31% strongly opposed; 44% support the regulations, with just 19% strongly supporting them. Men, seniors and middle-class voters are the most strongly opposed to the regulations.
  • Nearly 4 in 10 voters are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the EPA regulations: 39% of voters are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the regulations while 22% are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the regulations.
  • Nearly half of voters say they are not willing to pay a single dollar more in their energy bill to accommodate the EPA regulations: 45% of voters say they are not willing to pay more in their monthly energy bill.
  • A majority of voters believe the United States cannot afford new costs and potential job losses resulting from the EPA regulations.

Almost three-quarters of voters say they want all-of-the-above energy policies.

Grid Operator Proposes Diluting Demand Response Benefits

October 24, 2014

Earlier this month PJM, the electricity grid operator for this region of the country, released a whitepaper on demand response (DR).  In it, PJM makes proposals that could greatly reduce the value of DR programs for manufacturers going forward.  The proposals could affect current contracts, and, ultimately, increase capacity prices significantly.

EnerNoc will present on the development at the November 13 meeting of the OMA Energy Committee.  EnerNoc works with manufacturers, and others, to aggregate DR and manage DR bid processes.  Register for the committee meeting here.

Sign Up for CHP Tour of OMA Member, Jay Industries, Inc., in Mansfield

October 24, 2014

The OMA CHP/WER/EE work group has a limited number of spaces remaining for its November 12 tour of Jay Industries, Inc.’s new combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Mansfield.

The tour will be 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. followed by a lunch discussion hosted by IGS Energy.

CHP plants generate electricity on-site while utilizing the waste heat to generate hot-water, steam, or chilled water.  CHP plants use natural gas and have an overall efficiency of about 75%, which exceeds the overall combined efficiency of traditional centralized power plants and boilers, which are typically 50% efficient.

To find out more or reserve your spot, contact OMA’s energy engineering consultant, John Seryak, of Go Sustainable Energy LLC.

The OMA CHP/WER/EE work group is a peer-sharing, learning group for facility and energy managers charged with managing energy consumption and peak demand in their facilities.  Learn more or join here.

Is your plant a good candidate for CHP?  As an OMA member, you are eligible for a free screening analysis from Go Sustainable Energy LLC.   Contact John Seryak.

In-State Renewable Generation Standards to be Cancelled

October 24, 2014

On October 15, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) issued an entry directing PUCO staff to propose rules amending Ohio Adm. Code 4901:1-40-03 in order to eliminate the in-state renewable energy requirement.  The revisions incorporate recently enacted S.B. 310 into the commission’s regulations

Should Consumers Subsidize Utilities?

October 17, 2014

Three of Ohio’s four investor-owned utilities have rate cases pending before the Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) that would impose nonbypassable riders on all electricity consumers to subsidize the continued operation of uneconomic generation units.

The proposals are so significant to the operation of the electricity markets in PJM (which manages the markets in Ohio and 12 other states) that its Independent Market Monitor has filed a motion to intervene.  In it, the market monitor says:  “The Market Monitor takes the position that subsidies should not be permitted to interfere with the competitiveness of PJM markets and PJM’s competition‐based market design.”

A national coalition notes:  “This amounts to a hidden tax on the state’s consumers and businesses and Ohio’s economy, and represents a threat to the realization of the competitive market’s benefits.”

To learn what you can do about this issue, contact Ryan Augsburger.

FirstEnergy Seeking a “Subsidized Turnaround?”

October 10, 2014

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis this week released a study that paints a stark picture of the financial condition of FirstEnergy.  The study, “FirstEnergy, A Major Utility Seeks a Subsidized Turnaround,” claims FirstEnergy “turning to regulatory capture and ratepayer bailouts as it struggles to reverse a deepening spiral of debt service and revenue declines.”

“FirstEnergy’s financial condition has deteriorated since it merged with Allegheny, and its key financial metrics are on a downward trajectory. Over the past three years, it has experienced declining revenues, declining net income, declining stock price, declining dividends, and rising debt… To shore up its balance sheet, FirstEnergy has relied heavily on “one-time resources,” including proceeds from asset sales and short-term borrowings. FirstEnergy’s poor financial performance stems from the underlying condition that the company’s business – the sale of electricity – is performing poorly and not generating sufficient revenue to cover expenses,” write the researchers.

The study concludes:  “FirstEnergy’s regulatory and political strategies are aimed to squeeze as much profit as possible out of the regulated subsidiaries, while using the regulated subsidiaries and other taxpayer subsidies to prop up its failed merchant generation business. But despite the above initiatives, FE’s financial situation has not turned around, and the company is still burdened by excessively high levels of debt. FE’s reliance on subsidies and bailouts – while costly to ratepayers – will not solve the underlying downward slide of the company’s financial performance.”