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Questions Linger About Last Summer’s Power Outages

December 21, 2022

Last June, after a quarter of a million Ohioans suffered storm-related power outages, public officials and key organizations — including the OMA — called for a review of AEP Ohio’s systems management and reliability procedures.

Half a year later, AEP says it will improve its vegetation management following the company’s internal review. But it appears the utility overlooked other potential causes, such as broken relays. Moreover, there has been no thorough independent investigation of the outages, nor is there a transparent forum for customers to ask questions.

Meanwhile, regional grid operator PJM admits its personnel were not trained to prevent intentional power outages. (You may recall that AEP Ohio shed load in the Columbus area for what it called defensive reasons.) 12/21/2022

An Equally Divided FERC for 2023

December 21, 2022

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Richard Glick won’t return in 2023. Due to Glick’s controversial moves to include climate-related issues as part of FERC reviews, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) blocked his reconfirmation, setting up possible 2-2 deadlocks on some issues.

In this Reuters video, former FERC Chair Neil Chatterjee (R) predicts that a 2-2 partisan split will mean FERC members will be forced to compromise on both electric transmission and natural gas pipeline projects. 12/19/2022

110 Federal Actions on Energy Efficiency

December 21, 2022

The Biden administration has recorded 110 “energy efficiency actions” this year, according to this announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The agency’s latest proposal is more efficiency standards for lightbulbs.

Among the administration’s 2022 efficiency requirements are those targeting the manufacture of appliances and products such as heaters and AC units, as reported by news outlets. 12/20/2022

Energy Roundup: A Look at Global Energy Prices

December 16, 2022
  • Visual Capitalist has published this infographic to compare gasoline, electricity, and natural gas prices by country.
  • In a win for the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association Energy Group, the PUCO has agreed to freeze what AES Ohio charges to cover distribution of electricity until a new electric security plan is approved next year.
  • The AP has published this explainer as to why nuclear fusion could be a clean-energy breakthrough.
  • Shifting all vehicles, including long-haul trucks, to electric would demand more than 40% of the U.S. electricity production, the American Transportation Research Institute says.
  • Reports say as FERC Chair Richard Glick’s time at the agency is likely coming to an end, the commission’s path forward on climate assessments is murky.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy this week announced the closing of a $2.5 billion loan to Ultium Cells LLC to help finance the construction of new lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facilities in Lordstown. 12/15/2022

Energy Roundup: Electricity Use to Set New Record

December 9, 2022
  • House Bill 6 has played a major role in Ohio falling 11 spots — to No. 44 — in the 2022 Energy Efficiency Scorecard issued by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
  • The Supreme Court of Ohio has mostly upheld the PUCO’s order directing utility companies to collect fees for an HB 6-related $20 million fund incentivizing solar energy, though the court ordered the PUCO to clarify if customers should be stuck with a commercial tax.
  • Multiple acts of sabotage on utility companies are raising concerns that utilities are not doing enough to stave off physical threats to the electrical grid, reports say.
  • U.S. power usage is set to hit a new high this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says, breaking the record set in 2018.
  • The U.S. Energy Information Administration offers an hourly electric grid monitor, which provides up-to-the-hour information on demand across the U.S. Users can create, save, and share custom dashboards.
  • Crude oil futures fell to their lowest level of the year this week amid growing concern about the global economy. Natural gas futures have shed 25% since Thanksgiving.
  • On Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders have failed to pass U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) energy permitting overhaul.
  • OMA Connections Partner NRG has published these eight questions to consider when reviewing your company’s energy strategy.

Meanwhile, among the bills still pending in the final days of the General Assembly’s current session is House Bill 317, the OMA-opposed legislation that has been called a “rerun of House Bill 6.” 12/8/2022

Union Hiring Mandate Lingers in Lame Duck

December 2, 2022

OMA-opposed House Bill 235 — the union hiring mandate — remains a threat as state lawmakers continue their post-election session. The bill would impose a quota system that forces Ohio refineries to hire union workers, while creating a precedent that could impact other industries .

As noted in this updated analysis conducted at the OMA’s request, HB 235 would impose a penalty of up to $10,000 per day, per violation for non-compliance.

More than 150 manufacturers have already utilized the OMA’s Manufacturing Advocacy Center to inform their legislators that they oppose HB 235. If you haven’t already, take action now. 12/1/2022

OMA Offers EV Bill Improvements

December 2, 2022

On Nov. 29, the Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 307, legislation aimed at growing Ohio’s electric vehicle (EV) industry.

While the OMA supports efforts to grow Ohio’s robust automobile manufacturing sector and supplier network, SB 307 would impose contentious policy by subsidizing monopoly utility companies to build EV charging stations. Moreover, it would pass the costs onto electric customers, whether or not they use the stations. The OMA advocates competitive markets to drive the most effective solutions for EV charging infrastructure and financing.

In testimony this week, the OMA’s energy engineer, John Seryak of RunnerStone LLC, raised concerns the bill could hinder the EV industry by encouraging utilities to overbuild the electric grid and making EV adoption more expensive. He recommended manufacturer-friendly alternatives to enhance competition and transparency. Watch Seryak deliver his remarks (at the 1:54:10 mark of this video) or read his testimony. 11/29/2022

OMA Energy Committee Examines Lame Duck Threats

December 2, 2022

On Nov. 29, the OMA Energy Committee held its Q4 meeting, sponsored by OMA Connections Partners AES Ohio, NRG, and Scioto Energy. More than 70 members attended either in person or virtually. Highlights included:

The OMA will soon issue the 2023 meeting dates for its policy committees. Stay tuned. 11/29/2022

State AGs Want FERC Hearing on Vanguard’s Utility Holdings

December 2, 2022

A coalition of 13 states — including Ohio — have opened a new line of attack against corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies. The states’ attorneys general are asking the FERC to hold a hearing on investment firm Vanguard’s attempt to expand its ownership of utility shares in light of what the AGs are calling the firm’s “environmental activism.”

The AGs say Vanguard has pledged $8.5 trillion “to pressure utility companies to eliminate fossil fuels.” FERC should ensure Vanguard’s “activism will not lead to electricity price hikes and grid instability,” said Utah’s Republican AG Sean Reyes. 12/1/2022

Householder Trial Begins Next Month

December 2, 2022

The public corruption trial of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, which will examine his role in the House Bill 6 scandal, begins next month. Prosecutors have accused Householder and others of secretly running a dark money campaign that accepted more than $60 million from FirstEnergy to ensure passage in 2019 of HB 6, which provided customer-funded subsidies and special favors for investor-owned utilities.

Householder’s attorneys want the judge overseeing the case to block key evidence, including an admission from FirstEnergy that it paid $4.3 million to former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo. Meanwhile, the Ohio Press Network reports that the PUCO’s release of Randazzo’s emails has shed more light on the behind-the-scenes activity related to HB 6. 12/1/2022