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News and Analysis

OMA Joins Effort to Support Competitive Transmission

October 15, 2021

The OMA this week joined more than 70 consumer organizations representing manufacturing companies and residential consumers to urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ensure that new electricity transmission projects are competitively bid and ratepayer cost increases are reduced.

FERC, which oversees the U.S. bulk power system, has initiated an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that considers the potential need to improve how transmission lines are planned and paid for. According to the Electricity Transmission Competition Coalition, annual transmission spending in the U.S. has increased from $95 billion in 2014 to $170 billion in 2020 — a 79% increase — while electricity demand increased only 2.3%. Only about 3% of electric transmission projects face competition. 10/14/2021

Study: Ohio No. 25 for Energy Efficiency

October 15, 2021

The Buckeye State ranks 25th when it comes to energy efficiency, according to a new comparison by personal finance website The site measured the efficiency of auto- and home-energy consumption in the 48 contiguous states. 10/12/2021

Report: No Plan to Protect Ohio Customers From Growing Transmission Charges

October 8, 2021

The OMA Energy Group (OMAEG) has worked hard to contain transmission charges — one of three major components on power bills, along with generation and distribution. The OMAEG contends that applications for new transmission charges are not being adequately scrutinized by regulators, resulting in customer cost increases without corresponding benefits. Multiple consumer groups have supported the OMAEG’s efforts on this issue.

The OMAEG proposes that the Ohio Power Siting Board provide greater oversight of charges for supplemental transmission projects. Despite these concerns, the Board recently issued a draft report warning against increased oversight that could significantly reduce costs while maintaining reliability. Not surprisingly, transmission owners generally agree with that position, according to a report by Hannah News Service. 10/7/2021

PUCO Requested Utility-Friendly Edits to Audit Report

October 8, 2021

Emails obtained via a public records request show staff at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) directed an independent auditor to tone down its initial criticism of customer-funded subsidies for two coal-fired power plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corp. (OVEC).

According to reports, the auditor — who was hired to examine the OVEC subsidies, which are directly tied to the scandal-ridden House Bill 6 — originally stated that “keeping the plants running does not seem to be in the best interests of ratepayers” and “the OVEC contract overall is not in the best interest of AEP Ohio ratepayers.” At the time, the PUCO was headed by former Chair Sam Randazzo, who later resigned due to his apparent ties to the HB 6 scandal. The final audit report contains a much milder tone.

The OMA remains committed to the repeal of these subsidies, which were forced on Ohio manufacturers. 10/7/2021

Industrial Use of Natural Gas Could Soon Break 50-Year-Old Records

October 8, 2021

Based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) September outlook, U.S. industrial sector natural gas consumption is expected to rise throughout 2021 and exceed pre-pandemic 2019 levels. The EIA forecasts the growth to continue into 2022, nearing or breaking annual industrial natural gas consumption records set in the early 1970s. 10/5/2021

AP Highlights Effort to Repeal HB 6 Coal Plant Subsidy

October 1, 2021

The AP has spotlighted efforts in the Ohio House and Senate to repeal a House Bill 6-related subsidy for two unprofitable Cold War-era coal plants. The AP story points to OMA research that shows the plants lost $1.3 billion from 2012 through 2019 and continue to lose money.

The subsidy for the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) plants — one of multiple reasons the OMA opposed HB 6 — “has cost Ohio customers more than $340 million thus far and leave them on the hook for hundreds of millions more.”

Meanwhile, the House Public Utilities Committee this week held its second hearing on House Bill 351 — the House version of the OVEC subsidy repeal. Kim Bojko, the OMA’s energy counsel, offered proponent testimony. (See Kim’s testimony beginning at the 1:07:30 mark, as well as this story by Gongwer News Service.) 9/29/2021

Analysis: OVEC Costs Double for Customers

October 1, 2021

A new analysis by the OMA’s technical consultants at RunnerStone describes how customers’ costs to subsidize two inefficient, Cold War-era coal power plants (including one in Indiana) have doubled in recent years.

The memo also examines inconsistencies expressed by OVEC and its consortium of energy company owners regarding the need for the subsidy. The OVEC subsidy, which is directly tied to the scandal-ridden House Bill 6, has been consistently opposed by the OMA due to the growing burden it has placed on customers. This new research confirms manufacturers’ concerns. 9/30/2021

Report: Energy Crunch in China, Europe Could Impact U.S. Manufacturers, Supply Chains

October 1, 2021

Energy crises in Europe and China could impact economic forecasts, supply chains, and beyond, according to reports. Axios notes that Europe “has for weeks been facing sky-high natural gas and power prices,” while China “is facing electricity shortages that are hobbling factories.”

Reuters published this analysis of China’s electricity crunch, which has been triggered by a “shortage of coal supplies, toughening emissions standards, and strong demand from manufacturers.” 9/29/2021

More Hearings Held on Bills to Undo HB 6 Provisions

September 24, 2021

This week, the Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee held a second hearing on Senate Bill 89, which would revise renewable energy standards weakened by the scandal-ridden House Bill 6. The committee also held a third hearing on Senate Bill 118, which would revoke $20 million a year in ratepayer-funded solar subsidies.

Gongwer News Service reports the sponsors of both bills are discussing whether they could generate more support by combining their efforts. 9/21/2021

House Hearing on Bill to Repeal Coal Plant Subsidies

September 24, 2021

The House Public Utilities Committee this week heard opening testimony on House Bill 351, offered by Reps. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) and Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Minerva) to repeal House Bill 6’s cost recovery extension for a pair of Ohio Valley Electric Corp. coal plants — estimated to cost customers around $700 million by 2030. The bill mirrors Senate Bill 117, co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Romanchuk (R-Mansfield) and Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus). 9/21/2021