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PJM Market Monitor Visits OMA Energy Committee

May 22, 2020

More than 70 members virtually joined the OMA Energy Committee committee meeting this week. All OMA committee meetings through at least third quarter will be held virtually.

Special guest presenter, Dr. Joseph Bowring, the PJM Independent Market Monitor, spoke on the impact of the FERC Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) order on customers’ power bills. Dr. Bowring has noted repeatedly that state legislation to subsidize certain power plants is unfair to markets. In his presentation he concludes that the landmark FERC MOPR order “is not expected to have an impact on the clearing prices and auction revenues in the 2022/2023 RPM BRA (wholesale power auction).” 5/21/2020

FirstEnergy Solutions Successor Seeks to Buy Back $300M in Additional Shares

May 15, 2020

Leaders of Energy Harbor — formerly known as FirstEnergy Solutions — have moved to repurchase an additional $300 million of its own stock, according to a report this week at Cleveland.com. (The Statehouse News Bureau also covered the story.) This comes as Ohio electricity customers — including manufacturers — are about to subsidize the company to the tune of $150 million annually through surcharges imposed by House Bill 6, last year’s nuclear bailout law.

The article quotes Ned Hill, a professor at The Ohio State University, who said contrary to the company’s arguments that it was in financial trouble, the buyback shows Energy Harbor’s management is confident it will make money as it now rewards shareholders.

Nearly a year ago, as he delivered OMA opponent testimony on HB 6, former OMA Chairman David W. Johnson of Summitville Tiles urged Ohio lawmakers to require an annual, independent profitability analysis before the state doled out Ohioans’ moneys to the generation company that is now Energy Harbor. That, of course, didn’t happen. Join the discussion at the OMA Energy Committee meeting next week. 5/13/2020

Pandemic Sparks Slump in Wholesale Electricity Prices

May 15, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the International Energy Agency expects the biggest worldwide decline in electricity consumption since the Great Depression, according to The Wall Street Journal. “It is as if Germany and France were both turned off for the year,” the story notes. In the U.S., the drop has been most severe in New York City, where wholesale power prices averaged $16.57 a megawatt-hour in the first six days of May — down by more than a quarter from the start of the 2020.

Meanwhile in Ohio, despite lower electricity consumption, Ohio electric distribution utility FirstEnergy is assured to enjoy record profits due to the new decoupling rider authorized by HB 6. Under the mechanism, if annual revenue in a given calendar year is less (or greater) than 2018’s baseline revenue, FirstEnergy utilities will charge (or credit) the difference to customers through the decoupling rider. 5/11/2020

COVID-19 Continues to Inflict Damage on Renewable Industries

May 8, 2020

The U.S. renewable energy industry continues to suffer from the pandemic. As many as 120,000 jobs in solar and 35,000 in wind could be lost, trade groups say. The wind industry, in particular, is plagued by slowdowns in obtaining parts from overseas, according to the AP. 5/4/2020

Infographic: America’s Growing Dependency on China for Essential Minerals, Rare Earth Metals

May 8, 2020

Today, the U.S. is 100% import-reliant on many minerals and metals that are essential for defense technologies, consumer goods, and clean energy technology. VisualCapitalist.com has published a new infographic to spotlight China’s dominance in the production of critical minerals needed for the new energy era. 5/7/2020

In 2019, U.S. Energy Production Exceeded Consumption for First Time in 62 Years

May 1, 2020

In 2019, for the first time since 1957, America’s energy production exceeded energy consumption on an annual basis, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Domestic energy production has grown substantially during the past decade due mostly to increased crude oil and natural gas production from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Meanwhile, due to the COVID-19 shutdown, U.S. fracking activity in April was poised to suffer its largest-ever monthly drop, according to reports. 4/29/2020

How Oil Prices Went Sub-Zero

April 24, 2020

Oil prices fell into negative territory for the first time in history this week, leaving oil producers to effectively pay others to store their crude. With the sudden reduction in the demand for fuel, some experts say a second wave of negative pricing could emerge.

VisualCapitalist.com has created this infographic to tell the story of what led to this week’s oil price crash. 4/21/2020

U.S. Coal Production Expected to Fall 22% rom 2019

April 17, 2020

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that U.S. coal production will be down 22% from 2019 and that energy-related CO2 emissions will decrease by 7.5% in 2020. It also predicts that the U.S. will again be a net importer of crude oil and petroleum as domestic oil production continues to decline due to low energy prices. 4/13/2020

Renewable Energy Sector Hit Hard in March

April 17, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak has dealt a blow to more than just traditional energy producers. More than 106,000 jobs in the clean energy sector were lost in March, according to a new study conducted by BW Research Partnership for the E2 advocacy group. The analysis showed losses in several areas of the clean energy sector, including energy efficiency, renewable power generation and alternative transportation. 4/15/2020

Analysts: Retail Gasoline Prices Could Fall Below $1

April 10, 2020

Reports circulated this week that gasoline prices at distributors around the country are falling fast as the supply grows and demand has been cut in half due to stay-at-home orders in most states.

Analysts have said gasoline prices at the pump could fall to under $1 in more parts of the country, with some wholesale prices under 20 cents a gallon and as low as 10 cents a gallon in some parts of the Midwest. 4/9/2020