News and Analysis
Natural gas futures surpassed $9 per MMBtu on Wednesday, May 25, taking prices to levels not seen since 2008. Experts have attributed the price spike to three key catalysts: little production growth, high liquified natural gas exports, and storage levels that are well below the five-year average. 5/25/2022
President Biden has nominated Richard Glick for another term as chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), reports say. Glick, whose term ends June 30, is one of three Democrats on the five-seat FERC. He continues to face criticism regarding FERC’s efforts to expand the agency’s scope of considerations to include greenhouse gas emissions when considering new pipeline projects. 5/23/2022
On May 17, the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 307, a wide-ranging plan to boost Ohio’s electric vehicle (EV) industry. The bill proposes to inject $85 million into the state education grants, factory retooling programs, and similar efforts, while providing vehicle sales tax incentives worth an estimated $55 million to $70 million a year.
Unfortunately, the bill would also constitute a massive new financial liability for electricity customers, including manufacturers.
Testifying as an interested party, Rachael Carl, the OMA’s managing director of public policy services, told lawmakers that SB 307, in its current form, would “expose customers to new costs from the riders that would finance electric car charging stations,” while providing “little to no guardrails to prevent excessive increases in Ohioans’ power bills.” Read the OMA’s testimony. 5/18/2022
In his late-night show on HBO, host John Oliver recently examined scandals involving the nation’s electric utility companies — and how they’re often incentivized to conduct activities that don’t necessarily benefit customers.
At the 15:45 minute mark of the segment, Oliver provides his take on the House Bill 6 scandal in Ohio, spotlighting FirstEnergy’s payments to former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo in the years preceding his chairmanship. 5/19/2022
U.S. natural gas prices have more than doubled since the start of the year, but summer demand could send prices at least another 25% higher, experts say. CNBC reports utilities that normally switch to coal when natural gas prices surge are finding coal is even more expensive. 5/18/2022
A hydrogen-fueled power plant is being proposed in Piketon, Ohio. According to the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative, an economic development group, the project is expected to produce clean energy and replace some of the jobs lost when the uranium enrichment facility shuttered in 2001.
The facility would generate 300 megawatts of power, employ at least 500 people, and provide hydrogen needed to manufacture products like cement and ammonia. 5/18/2022
Rachael Carl, the OMA’s managing director for public policy services, will be featured as a panelist during an upcoming webinar to examine the potential of hydrogen as a source of energy economy. The May 23 event, sponsored by OMA Connections Partner API Ohio, is titled, “Ohio Women in Energy Discuss America’s Energy Transition: The Growing Role of Hydrogen.” Learn more and register. 5/18/2022
Wind and solar generate more than a tenth of the world’s electricity. This infographic, published by VisualCapitalist.com, provides a country-by-country look at the expansion of wind and solar generation over the past decade. The site has also published this illustration of wind power generation by state. 5/18/2022
On May 11, the OMA Energy Committee held its Q2 meeting, sponsored by OMA Connections Partners Constellation, Go Sustainable Energy, and Vistra Energy. Nearly 60 members attended either in person or online. Highlights of the meeting included:
- An overview of current energy market trends;
- An examination of recent growth in U.S. liquified natural gas exports, which has added to the energy costs of U.S. manufacturers; and
- A review of current state legislation that would negatively impact Ohio’s electric customers, including House Bill 317.
The OMA will conduct its in-person Ohio Manufacturers’ Energy Conference on Sept. 8 at the Quest Conference Center in Westerville. Registration details will be forthcoming. 5/11/2022
OMA staff members are tracking the following energy-related developments:
- The U.S. average gasoline price continues to climb, hitting $4.41 on May 12, according to AAA. (Here’s the average price in Ohio.)
- The U.S. average diesel price has surpassed $5.60, according to the Energy Information Administration.
- U.S. natural gas prices have increased considerably since February, reaching more than $7.60 per MMBtu as of May 12.
- The American Petroleum Institute says the U.S. needs a long-term energy strategy while the petroleum industry deals “with the same issues that a lot of other industries are dealing with,” including labor and supply shortages.
- Based on recent utility auction results, Ohioans who aren’t currently utilizing a contract will likely spend considerably more on electricity this summer, according to reports.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s investigation into potential solar tariff circumvention could threaten the Biden administration’s decarbonization efforts, according to U.S. Department of Energy officials. 5/12/2022