News and Analysis
Annual Coal-Fired Generation Increases for First Time Since 2014December 22, 2021
The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects a 22% increase in coal-fired generation this year compared to 2020. This year yields the first year-over-year increase in coal generation in the U.S. since 2014, largely due to the higher cost of natural gas. 12/21/2021
Utilizing Technology to Improve Demand Response ProgramsDecember 22, 2021
Demand response (DR) programs offer energy customers financial incentives for dialing back energy use when the power grid is under strain. Even greater savings can be unlocked by adding smart energy technologies to standard DR programs.
OMA Connections Partner NRG has published this insight to demonstrate how your business can use supplemental technologies to make these savings a reality. Estimates show demand flexibility could reduce energy costs by $15 billion per year nationwide. 12/21/2021
PUCO Expands Investigation Into FirstEnergyDecember 17, 2021
This week, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) ordered its ongoing investigation of FirstEnergy’s Ohio utilities be expanded to include an apparent non-disclosure of an agreement during a 2015 PUCO proceeding.
According to a news release, the PUCO discovered during its four ongoing investigations — related to House Bill 6 activity — that FirstEnergy “failed to disclose an apparent ‘side deal’ it entered in exchange for an industrial energy group dropping its opposition to the Ohio utilities’ then-ongoing electric security plan proceeding.”
As reported by Gongwer News Service, that deal was a 2015 amendment to FirstEnergy’s consulting agreement with Sustainability Funding Alliance, the firm solely owned by former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo. While Randazzo has not been charged with a crime, FirstEnergy has admitted seeking to bribe him with millions of dollars to obtain favorable treatment. 12/15/2021
Utilities Spending More on Electricity Delivery, Less on Power ProductionDecember 10, 2021
Nationwide, utility transmission and distribution costs have been rising faster than electricity production costs over the past decade, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Utility spending on power delivery was 65% higher in 2020 than in 2010 — a trend the EIA says could continue.
After adjusting for inflation, major U.S. utilities spent 2.6 cents/kWh on electricity delivery in 2010 compared to 4.3 cents/kWh in 2020. Meanwhile, utility spending on power production decreased from 6.8 cents/kWh in 2010 to 4.6 cents/kWh in 2020. 12/8/2021
Winter Natural Gas Prices Take a BreatherDecember 10, 2021
Natural gas futures for this winter have dropped more than 38% since late October. The drop in January 2022 through March 2022 futures (from $6.05 to $3.71 per dekatherm) is primarily based on warmer-than-normal forecasts for December, coupled with slight production increases.
OMA energy partner Scioto Energy reports that exports of liquified natural gas continue to break records as global inventories are below normal. However, the warmer temperatures have eased much of the panic regarding winter demand for the U.S. Storage inventories are at the five-year average and production is creeping up by 1 to 2 billion cubic feet per day — good news for natural gas customers. 12/9/2021
PUCO OKs Agreement Calling for FirstEnergy to Refund Ohio Customers $306 MillionDecember 3, 2021
The PUCO this week approved a settlement agreement and ordered FirstEnergy’s three Ohio utilities (Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, Ohio Edison, and Toledo Edison) to refund customers $306 million.
The order comes after last month’s unanimous settlement agreement, which was supported by the OMA Energy Group and other parties. The OMA has called the settlement “a huge win” for FirstEnergy customers “who have been saddled with above-market charges for years.” 12/1/2021
Examining Randazzo’s Role at PUCODecember 3, 2021
Instead of standing between Ohioans’ pocketbooks and utilities, former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo “acted less like a watchdog and more like a lapdog.” That’s the takeaway from this analysis by The Enquirer and Cincinnati.com.
The story cites examples of “how the PUCO let FirstEnergy off the hook” while under Randazzo’s control — and allowed Ohio consumers, including manufacturers, to foot the bill. Examples include PUCO’s work on decoupling; eliminating the “significantly excessive earnings test” or SEET; killing an audit of a fee added to customers’ bills; and waiving a rate case (in which utilities are required to file details on how much they will charge customers). 11/30/2021
OMAEG Urges Heavy Fines Following FirstEnergy AuditDecember 3, 2021
The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association Energy Group (OMAEG) has urged state regulators to levy heavy fines and take other punitive action against FirstEnergy and its affiliates following the findings of a compliance audit tied to the House Bill 6 scandal.
As reported by Gongwer News Service, the OMAEG told the PUCO that the FirstEnergy audit’s scope was insufficient to protect consumers, and that the companies should forfeit $766.5 million for cited violations. 11/29/2021
Husted: Michigan ‘on Weak Legal Ground’ in Line 5 DebateDecember 3, 2021
Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted this week told news media that the new strategy Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is taking in hopes of shutting down the oil and natural gas pipeline known as Line 5 “is a sign Michigan understands it is on weak legal ground in federal court and is seeking a more favorable forum to plea their case.”
Earlier this week, Whitmer announced she was voluntarily dismissing a lawsuit she filed in a U.S. district court — one that largely mirrored a lawsuit filed in state court.
Line 5 has operated since 1953. Shutting down the pipeline would cost tens of thousands of jobs, spike energy prices, and jeopardize the upper Midwest’s economy. The OMA is on record in support of the pipeline remaining operational. 12/2/2021
Ohio to See More Natural Gas-Fired Electricity GenerationDecember 3, 2021
From 2022 to 2025, 27.3 gigawatts (GW) of new natural gas-fired electricity generation is expected to come online in the U.S., according to the Energy Information Administration. Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — states with pipeline access to natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays — will account for a combined 43% of this new capacity. 12/1/2021