News and Analysis
In mid-February AEP Ohio’s parent company, American Electric Power, announced that its unregulated subsidiary would invest over a billion shareholder dollars to acquire renewable energy that the company believes will provide additional shareholder value. The announcement is in contrast to AEP Ohio’s regulatory proposal pending at the PUCO which would force all AEP customers to subsidize a similar investment on the regulated-side, shifting risk from shareholders to its customers.
“If AEP Ohio wants to build new generation, the company’s shareholders – not its customers – should be doing the investing and taking on the risk. We are glad to see they are now doing that and expect they will discontinue efforts to ask the PUCO to approve their filing that would make customers foot the bill to develop renewable generation in Ohio,” said Bradley Belden, President, The Belden Brick Company, and chair of the OMA Energy Group. 2/28/2019
This week the PUCO authorized Duke Energy Ohio to establish a credit on electric customer bills to reflect the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 into its rates. Here are the details.
This action settles the issue for three out of four of Ohio’s regulated-electric utilities, while the fourth is in the settlement process.
The OMA Energy Group intervened in these proceedings in order to ensure that members’ interests are protected and that the full benefit of the TCJA is passed back to customers, as required by law. 2/21/2019
With the announcement of legislative committee assignments this week, it becomes evident which state representatives and senators will be most involved in crafting anticipated electricity-pricing legislation.
Senator Steve Wilson will chair the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. In the House, Rep. Nino Vitale will chair the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Rep. Jamie Callender will chair the Public Utilities Committee. 2/14/2019
During inaugural meetings of standing House committees this week, we got a glimpse of what is coming down the pike. Statehouse observers believe a legislative proposal is forthcoming that would bailout the uneconomic nuclear power plants in Lake and Ottawa Counties.
Lawmakers on three separate House panels will likely touch the proposal. Rep Dick Stein (R-Norwalk) co-chair of a subcommittee on Energy Generation confirmed that preserving the nuclear power plants is a priority. Rep. Stein also expressed support for molten salt, thorium nuclear reactors.
House Energy Committee Chair Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) was quoted in Statehouse news media as saying, “We seriously have to look at generation and the mix of what Ohio’s doing.” And, “We’ve had some brownout situations. We’ve had some issues with PJM Interconnection in terms of how we’re putting energy into that. One of the key issues for our state is if we’re an energy producer it helps attract business to the state because our rates will be lower and it also helps your average citizen.”
Meanwhile, House Public Utilities Committee Chair Jamie Callender (R-Concord) indicated that nuclear bailout legislation could come to his committee or to the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, and that wind setbacks will also be a likely subject for legislative reform. In an interview following the committee meeting, he expressed concern that Ohio doesn’t produce enough power to meet its own needs while conceding the region enjoys a surplus of electricity. 2/14/2019
This week PUCO Chairman Asim Haque submitted his letter of resignation to Governor DeWine.
In a PUCO press release that included a list of Haque’s significant accomplishments, Haque said: “I would not be doing this experience, nor my feelings about public service to this state any justice by expressing the common refrain of being “honored” to have served. It is of course true that I am deeply honored to have served. I think, however, it is more revealing, more personal for me to say that this experience has been an absolute dream. …”
Haque described his next position: “… I have accepted a job with PJM Interconnection in suburban Philadelphia. It is the regional transmission organization and wholesale market operator for thirteen states (including Ohio) and the District of Columbia. Its mission is similar to that of the PUCO’s, as PJM is tasked with providing reliable power at least cost to a large footprint in this country. …” 2/4/2019
Gov. DeWine this week appointed Columbus attorney and lobbyist, Samuel Randazzo to a seat on the PUCO. At the same time, the governor designated Mr. Randazzo as chairman of the PUCO. His five-year term will begin in April. 2/5/2019
This week saw renewed legislative interest in forcing Ohio electric customers to pay to bailout uneconomic nuclear power plants. House Speaker Larry Householder voiced support for preserving the plants lauding their environmental benefits.
Toledo Blade quoted the Speaker as saying, “I think it’s a benefit to the entire state of Ohio to have those non-emissions plants,” perhaps opening the door to new charges on power bills of all Ohio investor-owned utility customers.
Meanwhile, the Columbus Dispatch ran dueling columns on the topic. Former New Hampshire governor and U.S. Senator Judd Gregg made the case for bailing out nuclear power to protect jobs and promote clean fuel, while former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell argued against bailouts calling them crony capitalism.
Get ready for another electrifying debate. The OMA Energy Committee will discuss this issue at its March 12 meeting. 2/7/2019
The PUCO Nominating Council met this week to interview nine candidates for a commissioner vacancy on the commission.
The nine candidates were selected from a field of twenty-three applicants.
Following the interviews, the council advanced four finalists: Gene Krebs, a former state legislator and former board chair of the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC); Dennis Deters, a court of appeals judge in Cincinnati; Bryce McKenney, an attorney at the OCC; and Sam Randazzo, a lobbyist for the IEU-Ohio.
Governor DeWine will consider the slate of four to appoint a new commissioner to a five-year term. 1/31/2019
Late last week, persons interested in standing for nomination and appointment to a soon-to-be vacant seat on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) submitted applications. Commissioner Tom Johnson announced he will not seek reappointment.
The list of applicants includes politicians, lawyers and lobbyists, an academic and some business people. Hannah News Service lists the applicants.
Soon a nominating committee will hone the list of 23 to four names which will be sent to Governor Mike DeWine; he is expected to choose the new commissioner from among those names. 1/24/2019
Bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) continues to angle for the General Assembly to enact legislation to bailout its uneconomic power plants. In releasing details of its bankruptcy restructuring, the company also announced it had terminated a contract to sell its retail business to Exelon.
John Funk of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that a state bailout might be more feasible this year due to the election of Speaker Larry Householder, who has announced plans to create a new panel of lawmakers to focus on electric generation.
The OMA has been a leading opponent of bailouts for power plants that are not needed. The OMA Energy Committee will meet next on March 12 to review this and all energy matters that are relevant to Ohio manufacturers. 1/24/2019