News and Analysis
A type of solar panel pioneered in Ohio is poised to benefit from technological advances, supply chain politics, and new federal incentives. Energy News Network reports that cadmium telluride solar is a proven technology and currently supplies about 40% of the U.S. utility-scale market. 2/22/2023
China controls more than 75% of global lithium-ion manufacturing capacity, according to this infographic by Visual Capitalist — and it is expected to maintain that level of dominance for the near future.
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the OMA Energy Committee will host its first meeting of the year, with in-person and virtual attendance options. Register here.
Among other things, members will hear from Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk), chair of the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee; Matt Cybulski, managing director of shale energy and petrochemicals at JobsOhio; and Jeff Reed of American Honda Motor Co. regarding Honda’s hydrogen plans.
Four weeks into the House Bill 6-related trial of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former FirstEnergy lobbyist Matt Borges, here are some of the latest developments:
- An FBI agent detailed how Householder personally netted more than $500,000 from an alleged bribery scheme involving FirstEnergy.
- Prosecutors said FirstEnergy lobbyist Juan Cespedes, who has already pleaded guilty, was a key middleman in the scheme to “sell the Statehouse.”
- Cespedes testified that he and Borges offered $15,000 as a bribe to get information from the HB 6 repeal campaign, and that officials at FirstEnergy were aware of the plan.
- In a recorded conversation from 2019, Borges told an FBI informant, “It would be bad for both of us if the story came out. But it would be worse for you.”
Meanwhile, WKYC TV in Cleveland recently ran this half-hour special to breakdown the HB 6 scandal. The broadcast includes insight from John Seryak, the OMA’s energy engineer and president of RunnerStone LLC. 2/16/2023
Gov. Mike DeWine has picked John Williams to fill the vacancy at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. A political independent, Williams has held several senior roles at the PUCO. Pending approval by the Ohio Senate, Williams will succeed outgoing Commissioner Beth Trombold, another former PUCO staffer, who will step down Feb. 10.
Here’s the governor’s news release on the nomination. 2/6/2023
OMA member Honda Motor Co., Ohio’s largest manufacturing employer, recently announced it will expand its use of hydrogen throughout its business. The company is planning a new fuel cell vehicle for sale next year, featuring a fuel cell stack developed with General Motors. By 2030, costs of these fuel cells will become comparable with diesel engines, company officials say.
Here are a summary and infographics outlining Honda’s hydrogen plans. 2/6/2023
States that have set renewable energy mandates will need to enhance their power grid, according to this story published by Pew’s Stateline. Recent analysis concludes that reaching 100% renewable electricity generation nationwide will require adding 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines — doubling the existing total — at a cost of $700 billion, according to the article. 2/7/2023
OMA member Eaton is helping AEP Ohio develop a microgrid to support Columbus’ water infrastructure. According to Eaton’s news release, the project will establish the city’s first renewable energy microgrid and extend Columbus’ ability to deliver safe and clean water during extended power outages. The microgrid is expected to be online in Q1 2023. 2/6/2023
This week produced some interesting developments in the House Bill 6-related trial of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former FirstEnergy lobbyist Matt Borges.
Householder’s defense team subpoenaed Timothy Burga, the president of the Ohio AFL-CIO. In 2019, the union received $1.4 million from the political non-profit Generation Now — overseen by Householder — to help defeat an effort to repeal HB 6, reports say.
Also, one of Householder’s lawyers questioned the fitness of U.S. District Judge Timothy Black, who is presiding over the trial. The lawyer inquired if Black might hold “personal animosity” toward Householder for the ex-speaker’s political work against the judge decades ago.
The trial is expected to conclude by the first half of March. 2/1/2023
- The PUCO’s January 2023 comparison of industrial customers’ utility bills in 16 Ohio cities shows customers in Dayton had the highest average electricity bills, while customers in Cincinnati had the highest average gas bills.
- Two rural northwest Ohio electric cooperatives are set to receive a combined $26.5 million in federal loans to improve and expand their grids.
- U.S. natural gas consumption reached a record daily high in late December 2022 as shown by this infographic.
- A new study finds all but one of the nation’s 210 coal-fired power plants are less cost-effective to operate than constructing solar or wind facilities.
- At last check, Ohio’s average gasoline price had risen to around $3.50/gal. (This heat map shows gasoline prices in every U.S. county.)
Lastly, a new federal law, passed after reports that the U.S. Department of Energy had allowed the export of taxpayer-funded battery technology to China, is expected to boost reshoring efforts, NPR reports. 2/2/2023