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News and Analysis

House Holds Hearings on Householder Expulsion

June 11, 2021

The Ohio House this week kicked off hearings on two measures (House Resolutions 69 and 70) aimed at removing Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) from the General Assembly. The former speaker, who faces federal corruption charges related to the House Bill 6 scandal, has been invited to provide “voluntary” testimony at the Tuesday, June 15 hearing on HR 69.

Householder, his political strategist Jeff Longstreth, and lobbyists Neil Clark, Matt Borges, and Juan Cespedes were indicted last summer — accused of accepting $61 million from FirstEnergy through the dark money non-profit Generation Now to help ensure enactment of HB 6, the law that authorized customer-funded subsidies for nuclear generation, OVEC coal plants, and more. 6/10/2021

Developer Pulls Plug on Keystone XL Pipeline

June 11, 2021

Environmental activists celebrated the news this week that TC Energy Corp. had officially canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, which was to bring Canadian oil to U.S. refiners. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden revoked a federal permit needed to complete the 1,200-mile project. The American Petroleum Institute called the development “a blow to U.S. energy security” and the employment of thousands of high-paying union jobs. 6/10/2021

Senate Passes Controversial Wind and Solar Bill

June 4, 2021

On a 20-13 vote that included five Republicans voting no, the Senate this week passed Senate Bill 52, legislation that would make sweeping changes to Ohio’s power siting process for large-scale wind and solar projects. The bill now heads to the House.

While SB 52 saw major changes from its original language, the substitute bill would still give final decision-making authority to local governments instead of the Ohio Power Siting Board — which is currently tasked with approving such projects. The OMA opposed the bill in committee and remains concerned about the precedent it would set, as well as potential long-term impacts to onsite power generation. 6/3/2021

FirstEnergy Fires Another Executive Tied to HB 6 Scandal

June 4, 2021

Late last week, it was reported that FirstEnergy informed federal regulators that the company had fired another senior executive — more fallout related to the House Bill 6 scandal. Former Senior Vice President Eileen Mikkelsen was dismissed for her “inaction” in the face of a $4.3 million payment linked to Sam Randazzo, the former chairman of Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, reports say. 6/1/2021

PJM’s First Capacity Auction in Three Years Yields Low Electricity Prices

June 4, 2021

PJM — the grid operator whose service area includes Ohio — has completed its first Base Residual Auction (BRA) for capacity in three years for the 2022/23 delivery year. The BRA had been delayed while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) created new rules to discourage state subsidies from influencing competitive market pricing.

This spring’s auction was the first to implement FERC’s Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) — and may be the only auction to do so. Natural gas-fueled generation, nuclear, solar, wind, and energy efficiency all cleared more megawatts in this auction, while coal plants experienced a significant reduction. The resulting BRA capacity price was $50/MW-day — the lowest capacity price in nine years. The BRA procured a 19.9% reserve margin, far exceeding PJM’s reliability target of 14.5%. Duke Energy’s Ohio customers will pay a slightly higher — but still low — capacity price of $71.69/MW-day.

Missing out on the low market prices and marked increase in low and no-carbon generation was Dominion Energy, which pulled out of the market, apparently to increase its renewable energy supply. 6/3/2021

OMA Testifies: Fix Utility Refund Law

May 28, 2021

Continuing the OMA’s drumbeat for policies that provide refunds to customers when electric utilities are found to have improperly over collected, Rob Brundrett, OMA’s managing director of public policy services, this week filed testimony in support of HB 260. The bill would correct case law that has denied customer refunds and allowed utilities to keep overages.

Numerous other organizations expressed support for the bill including the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and Ohio Cast Metals Association. 5/27/2021

OMA Testifies in Support of Bill That Secures Natural Gas Access

May 28, 2021

This week the OMA went on record with the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee chairman in support of House Bill 201, a bill that prohibits local governments from banning or blocking consumers from obtaining natural gas hookups.

The OMA worked with the bill sponsors and other interested parties to ensure that the intent of the bill matched its language. OMA’s Rob Brundrett wrote: “We believe that the current version of HB 201 helps ensure Ohio’s manufacturers will continue to have access to reliable and economical energy sources.” The bill is expected to move before the end of the summer. 5/27/2021

Senate Continues Debate on Approvals of Large Solar/Wind Projects

May 28, 2021

This week the Senate introduced a substitute version of SB 52. The intent of the original bill was to increase the influence local and impacted parties have during the Ohio Power Siting Board process when siting large-scale wind and solar projects.

The original bill allowed for local referendums of Board decisions. The new sub bill gives county commissioners the ability to stop projects in advance of the application being filed with the Power Siting Board.

The sub bill also allows county commissioners to designate zones in their counties where wind or solar projects would be permitted, and finally the bill provides that if a county or township passes a resolution against such a project then there is a rebuttal presumption that the project is detrimental, requiring the Power Siting Board to create a defense of the project.

The bill is expected to be voted out of the Senate soon. 5/27/2021

Changes Coming to Wholesale Power Markets?

May 28, 2021

Members of the OMA Energy Committee gathered this week to assess the energy policy environment and learn about best practices.

Chaired by Brad Belden, president of the Belden Brick Company, the committee heard from guest presenter Todd Snitchler, President and CEO of the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA). Snitchler described significant policy changes affecting the rules of the largely deregulated wholesale generation market and the importance of competitive markets.

Committee members also got an update from Enbridge on Michigan’s Line 5 Pipeline. If energy matters are important to you, it’s free and easy to join the committee – no obligations! 5/27/2021

Leadership Change in Senate Energy Committee

May 21, 2021

Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) has been named the chair of the Ohio Senate Energy & Public Utilities Committee, replacing Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House). The leadership change comes as Sen. Peterson is running for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.

Sen. McColley takes the reins of the committee as the panel considers several high-profile bills, including Senate Bill 117, OMA-supported legislation to repeal House Bill 6’s $700 million ratepayer-funded subsidy for OVEC-owned coal plants. 5/18/2021