News and Analysis
This week at the Statehouse, representatives from Ohio’s electric distribution utilities appeared before a House panel in support of House Bill 247. Sponsored by State Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk), HB 247 seeks to further erode Ohio’s deregulation law, exposing customers to new costs from riders that would pay for electric car charging stations and other enterprises that would compete with unsubsidized businesses.
During his questioning, State Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) noted that under House Bill 6 — the nuclear bailout law approved this summer — utilities were successful at including language allowing them to overcome provisions in existing law that prohibit utilities from selling generation.
Under Ohio’s sweeping deregulation law of 1999, regulated monopoly distribution utilities are restricted to only delivering electricity — a move that allows numerous electricity generators to compete. Deregulation has delivered customers more than $24 billion in generation savings, according to a recent study. But under HB 247, monopoly distribution utilities would get an unfair advantage. Read this analysis by OMA energy engineer RunnerStone LLC. Join the discussion by participating in the OMA Energy Committee’s Nov. 21 meeting. 10/10/2019
Earlier this year, House Bill 246 was introduced as a placeholder; that is, without any substantive language — only an intent to modernize the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the Office of Consumers’ Counsel.
This week, State Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord Township) said in an interview with Gongwer News Service that he anticipates hearings this fall, but that specifics are still up in the air. The OMA agrees there is a need to update utility laws to better protect customers from being overcharged. Recently approved state legislation has instead protected utilities at customer expense. 10/9/2019
The ultimate fate of House Bill 6 — Ohio’s nuclear bailout law — will not be known until a referendum campaign is played out. That could happen as soon as late October if the campaign fails to gather enough valid signatures. Or the question may languish until November 2020 if the referendum is successfully placed on the general election ballot. (The referendum group has until Oct. 21 to collect more than 265,000 valid signatures.)
The OMA is working to ensure that the needs of manufacturers are considered throughout the HB 6 implementation process, which is already well underway. Even though the law’s provisions have not yet gone into effect, some parties erroneously believe HB 6 will deliver benefits to energy-intensive customers. If you are in this camp, you owe it to yourself — and your company — to review why HB 6 does not benefit manufacturers. Read the myths surrounding HB 6. 10/2/2019
This week, opponents of House Bill 6 began hitting the airwaves with an advertisement — taking aim at the billion dollar bailout of the owners of nuclear power plants and utilities. Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts continues to collect signatures in hopes of placing a proposed referendum before Ohio voters next November. Signatures are due to be submitted by late October. 10/2/2019
In case you missed it, Cleveland.com this week published an article about a single streetlight in Cleveland that has illuminated “an abusive system of surcharges” resulting in “billions of dollars in subsidies for the state’s utilities.” The electricity bill for this streetlight — owned by a neighborhood association — has soared from around $8 in July 2008 to nearly $70 in July 2019, with only 38 cents of the total being for electricity.
Because the Ohio Legislature in 2008 authorized the use of “electric security plans” — which permit the addition of riders that go beyond the basic costs of distribution services and investment — Ohio ratepayers have paid $15 billion in subsidies to electric utilities since 1999, according one expert. Of course, this problem only gets worse under House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout plan passed and signed in July. 10/1/2019
PJM this week issued an emergency demand response call to certain areas of the region’s electric grid, including AEP territory, as unseasonably warm temperatures combined with offline power plants to create electric capacity concerns. While Wednesday’s electrical load was not a peak event, many power plants were offline to conduct seasonal maintenance. The PJM service area experienced its highest October load since 2007 and issued emergency demand response alerts to AEP, Baltimore Gas and Electric, Dominion, and Pepco zones. DP&L, Duke, and FirstEnergy customers were not in the emergency area. Demand response calls went to curtailment service providers and customers on utility interruptible tariffs. Customer demand response was credited with keeping the power system up and running.
Demand response programs create voluntary revenue streams for manufacturers and other customers, while preventing the need to build costly power plants, which may only be needed for a few hours every few years — thereby keeping electricity prices lower for all customers. This week’s event highlights the importance of flexible power resources to maintain grid reliability. Contact OMA’s energy engineer John Seryak if you have questions regarding demand response, or concerns you experienced with Wednesday’s event. 10/3/2019
Steve Nalley, a top official with the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), recently briefed the National Conference of State Legislatures on the country’s natural gas outlook. The EIA projects the U.S. will export more energy than it imports in 2020 due in part to continued drilling for shale natural gas, particularly in the east. The growth in natural gas production — and the lower prices that result — will continue to provide competitive incentives for increased electrical power generation. Natural gas used for electric generation overtook coal in 2016. See Nalley’s PowerPoint presentation.10/1/2019
This week, the Energy News Network and the Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism launched a series of reports on how Ohio utilities continue to reap windfalls from the public. This despite the promise of free-market competition made by policymakers more than a decade ago. The reporters chronicle increased distribution and transmission costs paid by customers to monopoly distribution utility companies — concluding that “utility-friendly lawmakers and regulators have shielded Ohio utility power plant affiliates from competition at customers’ expense.” Read the story.
The OMA has supported legislation to curtail the abuses, while the OMA Energy Group routinely engages in cases at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to protect the manufacturing sector. If you’re not already engaged, now is the time. Contact OMA staff to learn how. 9/25/2019
Ohio is among the nation’s top states for careers in energy efficiency, according to a new report called “Energy Efficiency Jobs in America.” Published by E4TheFuture and the non-partisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), the study ranks Ohio as ninth best, with 81,676 full-time energy efficiency jobs — excluding jobs in retail, vehicle efficiency-related work, and jobs tied to efficient manufacturing processes.
It’s estimated that more than 10,200 energy-efficiency businesses operate in Ohio, with a majority involved in manufacturing or construction. The report summary notes that nationwide, energy efficiency is the energy sector’s fastest-growing jobs producer, accounting for roughly half of the industry’s new jobs (151,700) last year. Meanwhile, the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs in energy efficiency stood at more than 321,000 — a 10% jump from 2017. 9/23/2019
Signatures continue to be collected to place a referendum on Ohio’s ballot to overturn House Bill 6 — the recently enacted law that forces Ohio customers to subsidize nuclear and other power plants. As we reported earlier this month, pro-HB 6 defenders are utilizing “blockers” to deter voters from signing the referendum petition.
This week, the pro-HB 6 defenders began circulating their own non-binding petition forms to further confuse voters. Also, they have begun airing yet another TV and radio advertisement that inaccurately portrays the Chinese government as the opponent to HB 6 — similar to the first ad.
The Energy News Network this week published a story on who is behind the Chinese conspiracy ads and the attempt to stop Ohio’s HB 6 referendum. 9/26/2019