News and Analysis
Panelists discussed how energy policy can drive economic development during the Midwestern Governors Association held in Columbus this week.
Jake Oster, Head of Energy Policy for Amazon, highlighted how his company is committed to using renewable energy and is developing a system to enable customers to more easily procure renewable power.
Panelist Dana Saucier, Senior Managing Director, JobsOhio, highlighted how competition is driving new energy industry investments in Ohio. He also highlighted the economic benefits to Ohio stemming from the abundance of natural gas in the region.
Moderator Asim Haque, Chairman, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, described how his agency has been working to prepare for significant grid modernization.
The governor celebrated the new natural gas power plants coming online in Ohio. 9/20/2018
Governor Kasich participated on an energy panel during the Midwestern Governors Association meeting this week. Kasich is the chair of the association.
In late August, the U.S. EPA officially proposed the administration’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule which is in stark contrast to the Obama administration Clean Power Plan (CPP). If approved, the new rule would replace the CPP.
The Trump proposal is intended to spur coal mining by dialing back environmental emissions restrictions that have hamstrung coal’s competitiveness against more efficient natural gas. Interested parties have 60 days to provide comment according to the EPA fact sheet.
While the OMA and other organizations are still conducting review and analysis, the editorial board of Bloomberg News offered a blistering critique of the Trump proposal citing how competitive power markets are helping to lower carbon dioxide emissions more than any government mandate. The Bloomberg editorial said, “True, it doesn’t help that President Donald Trump is doing all he can to stave off coal’s inevitable decline. In addition to the EPA’s new, doubly misnamed “Affordable Clean Energy” proposal, the president’s Energy Department is pushing a separate strategy to force electricity-grid operators to buy power from coal plants that are at risk of closing — all in the name of national security.” 9/6/2018
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Asim Haque this week unveiled the agency’s “PowerForward: A Roadmap to Ohio’s Electricity Future.”
The PUCO says: “The PowerForward Roadmap envisions the future electric distribution grid as a secure, open-access platform that will give customers more control over how they consume electricity, and allow for customers to adopt innovative applications of their choosing as they are introduced on the market.”
The release of the document follows months of hearings on the future of Ohio’s electricity grid and the role of markets to stimulate innovation. 8/29/2018
FirstEnergy Solutions this week announced its plans to close its last Ohio coal-fired power plant, the W.H. Sammis plant on the Ohio River in Stratton in 2021, and its last Pennsylvania coal plant, the Bruce Mansfield plant in Shippingport in 2020.
This comes on the heels of the bankrupt firm announcing the closure of its expensive nuclear plants. The firm has petitioned the Trump administration for bailouts of the plants.
PJM, the grid manager, must approve any plant closures. 8/30/2018
Even U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on his website celebrates the savings that will flow to electric utility customers as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. But not in Ohio, at least not yet.
While some utilities may have softened their resistance in recent months to sharing the wealth with their customers, the proceedings continue to plod along while utilities in many other states have already made plans to pass along the savings.
Last week the OMA Energy Group filed a brief in support of the PUCO’s ongoing investigation into the tax reductions. Its deferral order is essential to ensure that customers ultimately receive the full benefit of the tax savings created by the tax reform effective January 1, 2018.
Dayton Daily News highlights the case here. 8/23/2018
PowerForward is the PUCO’s extensive 2017-2018 review of the latest in technological and regulatory innovation that could serve to enhance the consumer electricity experience.
The purpose of PowerForward is to chart a path forward for future grid modernization projects, regulations and policies.
More than 100 industry experts provided presentations to help the commission better understand the future electric distribution grid and how technological enhancements could affect different stakeholders. The overall goal of PowerForward is to better frame the grid of the future.
Listen to Commission Chairman Asim Haque describe the project and the resulting report called A Roadmap to Ohio’s Electricity Future to be released on August 29. 8/23/2018
Attorneys for the University of Cincinnati have filed an application with the PUCO to secure a discount on their power bills. If approved, other customers in the Duke service territory would pay more on their electric bills to subsidize the university.
These type of arrangements are rare and have customarily been reserved for trade-exposed businesses, not public education institutions.
The OMA Energy Group has taken issue with the application and filed comment. OMA wrote: “UC does not promise to add to or even to maintain its current employment levels and it does not promise any capital investment. Further, UC has not demonstrated that it exports goods out of state, which is a key criterion to determine whether a business or organization’s operations benefit the state by increasing the state of Ohio’s Gross State Product.”
Read more in Gongwer News. 8/16/2018
The upcoming OMA Energy Committee is on Wednesday, August 15 from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the world’s leading glass container manufacturer, Owens-Illinois, Inc. (O-I), at its corporate campus in Perrysburg. Lunch is included courtesy of our host, O-I.
An optional tour of the O-I Innovation Center is offered prior to the meeting at 8:30 a.m. A tour of the Oregon Clean Energy Center (Oregon, OH) will follow the meeting at 2:00 p.m. for interested members.
Agenda topics include:
- Analysis of the state and federal proposals to subsidize nuclear and some coal power plants — what do they mean for you?
- Impact to manufacturers of FERC rulings on PJM proposals
- Natural gas and electricity pricing trend reports
- A special report on wind energy and a guest presentation from One Energy
- Our popular counsel’s report, engineering report and public policy report for need-to-know information
Register here or call (800) 662-4463. Registration is required. 8/8/2018
The Ohio electric utility companies and/or their parent companies have a goal to obtain a bailout for an uneconomic coal power plant known as OVEC (Ohio Valley Electric Corporation). The bailout would be financed by electric customers.
Akron-based FirstEnergy’s ownership share of OVEC was transferred to its now-bankrupt affiliate company, FirstEnergy Solutions (FES). This week the federal judge handling the bankruptcy case granted FES’s request to be exempted from OVEC operating liabilities meaning remaining OVEC owners, including AEP, will now shoulder additional liability.
Ohio’s residential customer advocate, the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, urged the court to deny FES’s request to be excused from the contract on the grounds that electric customers could end up paying more.
If the Ohio operating companies that are OVEC owners are forced to make up the difference for FES’s share of the OVEC operating costs, Ohio consumers could pay more as the PUCO has currently granted AEP authority to recover its net OVEC operating costs from its Ohio customers. Similar cost recovery approval has been requested and is pending before the PUCO for Duke and DP&L.
The OMA has been the leading business advocate opposing OVEC bailouts. 8/2/2018
Ohio electric customers in the FirstEnergy service territory have been paying a new subsidy to FirstEnergy since January 1, 2017.
The OMA Energy Group opposed the new customer surcharge during proceedings at the PUCO; however, the state agency authorized FirstEnergy to collect $132.5 million (plus taxes) annually over three years from customers through a distribution modernization rider (DMR) with virtually no strings attached on for how it must be spent. With taxes, FirstEnergy is currently collecting $168 million annually from customers.
This week, together with the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, the OMA Energy Group asked the court to halt collecting the money from customers until the appeal is complete.
“We believe this new rider is an unlawful generation subsidy meant to prop up the bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions corporate parent and are appealing it the Ohio Supreme Court,” commented the OMA’s Ryan Augsburger.
Furthermore, “despite the name of the new rider, the charge does not require the FirstEnergy utilities to spend a penny of the money on distribution service or modernization. Instead, the charge makes Ohio customers pay for credit support regarding the FirstEnergy utilities’ parent company, FirstEnergy Corp,” the OMA said in its joint motion for a stay. 8/2/2018