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News and Analysis

Bill Would Retain Ohio’s Renewable Energy Requirement

March 5, 2021

Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) has introduced Senate Bill 89 to make an 8.5% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) permanent. Dolan has told the media that the bill represents a compromise necessitated by the passage of House Bill 6, which lowers Ohio’s renewable energy benchmarks from 12.5% to 8.5% by 2026 and terminates the RPS in 2027.

An 8.5% RPS would not be affected by FERC’s Minimum Offer Price Ruling (MOPR). Any RPS exceeding 8.5% would be subject to the MOPR (due to state subsidies), impairing new renewable projects’ ability to compete for PJM capacity revenue. In contrast, the growing market of private corporate renewable energy purchases will not be subject to the MOPR ruling. 3/2/2021

PUCO to Hold Energy Efficiency Workshops

March 5, 2021

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) last week ended utilities’ energy efficiency cost recovery riders — as required by House Bill 6 — but said it would pursue a series of stakeholder meetings to further discuss the matter. The schedule for the workshops will be announced at a later date. For more on this development, read the story by Gongwer News Service. 3/1/2021

Honda Recognized for Energy Efficiency

March 5, 2021

OMA-member Honda has announced that its eight major U.S. plants — including four of its Ohio facilities — have earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR Certificate for Outstanding Energy Efficiency, demonstrating the company’s longstanding commitment to reducing CO2 emissions. 3/1/2021

AG Dave Yost Visits OMA Energy Committee

February 26, 2021

During this week’s meeting of the OMA Energy Committee, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost briefed members on his recent legal actions to halt implementation of key provisions of House Bill 6, the anti-market, scandal-ridden energy law that was opposed early by the OMA. Yost thanked the OMA for “stepping up” to oppose HB 6 and for the organization’s willingness to put its “reputation and resources on the line” through advocacy and legal opposition.

Other guests included Sen. Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario), who briefed members on the progress of his Senate Bill 10 — the OMA-supported legislation to repeal HB 6’s decoupling provision, as well as the “significantly excessive earnings” language authorized in the last state budget (HB 166).

The committee was provided an in-depth look at what went wrong in Texas leading up to that state’s recent weather-related power failures. Susanne Buckley of Scioto Energy reviewed electricity market trends, while Darin King of NiSource/Columbia Gas of Ohio reviewed natural gas market trends. 2/25/2021

Senate to Vote on Repeal of HB 6 Nuclear Subsidies

February 26, 2021

On Feb. 23, the Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee unanimously advanced Senate Bill 44 to repeal the nuclear generation subsidies authorized under House Bill 6. The full Senate is expected to consider SB 44 next week. The bill leaves intact HB 6’s $20 million in annual subsidies for select solar projects, but the repeal of the nuclear power subsidy would reduce customer charges by as much as $150 million a year.

Appearing before the Senate panel this week, OMA energy counsel Kim Bojko presented mostly supportive testimony of SB 44, but also urged senators to “finish the job” and repeal costly customer-paid subsidies for two aging coal power plants known as OVEC. (Watch this video of her testimony starting at the 6:00 mark.)

Meanwhile in the House, a similar variation of SB 44 received a second hearing this week. OMA testimony in support of House Bill 128 called on representatives to expand the legislation to repeal OVEC subsidies. 2/25/2021

Bill Takes Aim at New Wind, Solar Energy

February 26, 2021

A pair of state senators from Northwest Ohio have introduced legislation to empower local governments to reject the siting of new wind or solar generation. According to analysis from the non-partisan Legislative Services Commission, Senate Bill 52 would allow township voters to hold a referendum to approve or reject new generation projects that have been approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board — the agency that has supervised the siting of power generation for decades. (An identical version of the bill has been offered in the House with House Bill 118.)

Supported by groups opposing renewable energy development, SB 52 and HB 118 would detcer development of new wind farms or solar arrays, which already faces heavy restrictions in Ohio. OMA Managing Director of Public Policy Services Rob Brundrett reported on the legislation at this week’s OMA Energy Committee meeting, saying the bills may have a tough road ahead.

The OMA is monitoring the legislation with interest and will be advocating for professional siting policies that allow markets to work, including markets for renewable energy and other energy innovations. Read more about the OMA’s energy policy goals. 2/25/2021

First Step to HB 6 Repeal: Senate Passes Romanchuk Bill

February 19, 2021

The Ohio Senate this week unanimously passed Senate Bill 10 — the OMA-supported bill introduced by Sen. Mark Romanchuk (R-Mansfield) to repeal House Bill 6’s decoupling provision, which allowed FirstEnergy to lock in annual guaranteed revenue at record-setting 2018 levels ($978 million).

SB 10 would also repeal the “significantly excessive earnings” provision authorized in the last state budget (HB 166). That change to the so-called SEET test had allowed FirstEnergy to combine profits across its three companies, offsetting “significantly excessive” Ohio Edison gains with those from less profitable companies, thereby avoiding related customer refunds.

Under SB 10, revenue collected under these provisions would be refunded. Anticipated decoupling costs for customers were estimated at $17 million for 2020 and more than $101 million for 2021 for all customer classes. SEET refund amounts are yet to be determined.

SB 10 now goes to the House for consideration. Meanwhile, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) has said he hopes to bring a nuclear subsidies repeal plan (Senate Bill 44) to the floor in about two weeks and that he expects the repeal legislation to become law.

These developments and more will be covered at the Feb. 25 OMA Energy Committee meeting. Guest speakers will be Sen. Romanchuk and Attorney General Dave Yost. Register here. 2/18/2020

Another Bill to Repeal HB 6 Nuclear Subsidies

February 19, 2021

Another bill has been introduced at the Statehouse to repeal the nuclear subsidies authorized by the scandal-plagued House Bill 6. Remarkably, the new legislation is sponsored by two of HB 6’s strongest supporters in 2019.

House Bill 128 was introduced by Rep. James Hoops (R-Napoleon) — chair of the House Public Utilities Committee — and Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk), a vocal proponent of nuclear energy. The bill, which received its first hearing this week, would rescind HB 6’s $150 million a year in subsidies provided to Energy Harbor, owner of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants.

In short, HB 128 would:

  • Repeal $170 million in HB 6 generation subsidies, including $20 million a year for a handful of solar plants;
  • Eliminate the decoupling provision that locked in FirstEnergy revenue at record-setting 2018 levels ($978 million); and
  • End the change that reworked the “significantly excessive earnings” test to benefit FirstEnergy.

The sponsors of HB 128 say repeal of the subsidies is now necessary so the plants may continue to sell electricity into the PJM capacity market. (The OMA spotlighted this issue more than a year ago.)

The Senate, meanwhile, has its own subsidy-repeal plan in Senate Bill 44. 2/17/2021

FirstEnergy Ends Another Consumer Fee; More Questions Raised About $4M Payment to Randazzo

February 19, 2021

FirstEnergy announced this week it was ending a “lost distribution revenue” fee the utility has collected since 2011. In addition, the utility said it was taking other “proactive steps” in an attempt to repair its reputation amid the House Bill 6/Larry Householder bribery and racketeering scandal. This comes just two weeks after FirstEnergy announced it would forego the decoupling fee authorized by HB 6.

Meanwhile, reporter Andrew Tobias reports that in a new disclosure to federal regulators, FirstEnergy is bringing renewed attention to a questionable $4 million payment the company made to former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Sam Randazzo. The company now believes the payments “may have been for purposes other than those represented within the consulting agreement” that FirstEnergy had with Randazzo. The discovery of the payment prompted FirstEnergy to fire its then-CEO and other top executives last fall. 2/18/2021

PUCO Nominating Council Selects Six for Interviews

February 19, 2021

Six individuals will be interviewed later today (Friday, Feb. 19) in round two of the search to find the next Public Utilities Commission of Ohio commissioner for a seat that opens in April. Last month, Gov. Mike DeWine rejected the initial list of four finalists submitted by the PUCO Nominating Council.

Those selected for interviews are:

  • Daniel Shields, director of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel’s analytical department (Independent);
  • Jade Davis, vice president of external affairs for Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (Democrat);
  • Jenifer French, former Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge (Republican);
  • Melissa Shilling, chair of the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (Republican);
  • Nancy Hammond, former Fayette County Common Pleas Court judge (Republican); and
  • Virginia King, Refining Sustainability Manager for Marathon Petroleum LP (Republican).

After conducting private interviews, the council will advance four finalists to the governor. The appointment is subject to Senate approval. 2/19/2021