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News and Analysis

Senate Energy Committee Hears Wind and Solar Referendum Bill

May 21, 2021

In the Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee this week, dozens of witnesses testified for and against Senate Bill 52, which addresses the siting of large-scale solar and wind projects. The substitute bill mirrors its House companion (House Bill 118) and allows township trustees to adopt a resolution that designates portions of a township as an “energy development district.” These districts — if approved by voters — would be available for large wind and solar projects.

Opponents of the legislation say it would stifle renewable energy development in Ohio. The OMA provided opponent testimony on the original bill and is working with allies to find a solution to ensure local citizens have a meaningful opportunity to engage at the Ohio Power Siting Board. 5/20/2021

House Introduces Electric Security Plan Elimination Bill

May 21, 2021

This week, Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro) introduced House Bill 317. At the macro level, HB 317 would eliminate electric security plans (ESPs).

The ESP process was originally established to ensure electricity prices would not increase too much as utilities continued the transition to a mature de-regulated market. Since its creation, however, the ESP process has turned into a mechanism that regulated utilities use to increase costs through numerous above-market charges added to customers’ bills. The proposal would eliminate ESPs and require utilities to provide standard service offers under a competitive market-rate offer. The bill would also allow utilities to implement economic development and job-retention programs under the market-rate offer, while allowing utilities to apply to the PUCO to recover non-bypassable costs of those unlimited programs.

The OMA is researching and analyzing HB 317. At next week’s OMA Energy Committee, we will take a deep dive on this and other energy bills pending in the legislature. Register now! 5/20/2021

OMA Testifies to Eliminate OVEC Subsidies

May 14, 2021

This week, Brad Belden, president of The Belden Brick Company and chair of the OMA Energy Committee, testified on behalf of the OMA in support of Senate Bill 117 — legislation to repeal House Bill 6’s $700 million ratepayer-funded subsidy for two Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) coal plants, one of which is in Indiana. The bill would also refund customers the charges borne since HB 6 took effect.

The OMA has been on the frontlines advocating for the repeal of anti-customer provisions included in HB 6 including, the nuclear subsidies and decoupling provision. The OVEC subsidies are one of the last pieces of HB 6’s anti-market policy that remains in law. Customers will be on the hook for these subsidies through 2030 without action by state lawmakers. 5/13/2021

Ohio Policymakers Return AEP Political Contributions

May 14, 2021

Records show Ohio lawmakers and Gov. Mike DeWine have recently returned around $50,000 to American Electric Power’s (AEP) political action committee, according to a report by Ohio Capital Journal. AEP is a key beneficiary of House Bill 6’s $700 million ratepayer-funded subsidy for two OVEC coal plants.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is currently seeking an independent audit of the OVEC plants. 5/12/2021

Wind and Solar Referendum Bill Sees Major Changes in Committee

May 14, 2021

This week, the House Public Utilities Committee accepted a substitute version of House Bill 118 (a companion to Senate Bill 52). As introduced, HB 118 would have allowed townships to hold referendums on Ohio Power Siting Board decisions regarding nearby large-scale solar and wind projects. The substitute version instead allows township trustees to adopt a resolution that designates portions of a township as an “energy development district.” These districts — if approved by voters — would be available for large wind and solar projects.

The OMA is engaged and will be discussing this bill more at the May 27 Energy Committee meeting. 5/13/2021

Senate Confirms French as PUCO Chair

May 14, 2021

This week, the Ohio Senate voted 31-0 to confirm Jenifer French as the new chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). In a recent interview with Gongwer News Service, French says she aims to restore the public’s trust in the PUCO after former chair Sam Randazzo’s resignation last November. French said that among the PUCO’s priorities are four ongoing investigations into to FirstEnergy’s operations in relation to the passage of HB 6. 5/7/2021

Study: Line 5 Shutdown Would Cost Ohio $13.7B

May 14, 2021

If Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) succeeds in shutting down Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 — the continental Canadian pipeline that transports more than half million barrels of light crude oil and natural gas liquids a day — it would have a much greater impact on Ohio’s economy than those of surrounding states, a new study finds.

The report, conducted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, finds that Ohio could lose up to $13.7 billion in economic activity, $147.9 million in state revenue, and more than 20,000 jobs from the shutdown. The economic losses would be four times those suffered by Michigan, the study says, and more than six times the impact on Indiana or Pennsylvania. 5/11/2021

This Map Shows Gasoline Prices Across the U.S.

May 14, 2021

Gasoline prices are up again this week with concerns about how the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the nation, could impact Ohio. (The impact in the Midwest is expected to be minimal, experts say.) This heat map published by GasBuddy.com provides a look at average gasoline prices in every U.S. county. 5/12/2024

Pressured by Customer Advocates, PUCO Orders Audit of OVEC Utilities

May 7, 2021

This week, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) ordered an independent audit of American Electric Power (AEP) of Ohio, Duke Energy Ohio, and AES Ohio’s (formerly DP&L) revenues and customer charge-offs for the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC).

As reported by Hannah News Service, the PUCO audit was spurred by a request from the Office of Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) to ensure more transparency in the OVEC subsidies authorized by House Bill 6. A final audit report is due by Friday, Dec. 17.

Meanwhile, the OMA continues to press for approval of Senate Bill 117, offered by Sens. Mark Romanchuk (R-Mansfield) and Hercel Craig (D-Columbus) to permanently repeal HB 6’s OVEC subsidies and refund all charges collected since the bill became law. 5/6/2021

Natural Gas Bills See House Action

May 7, 2021

At the Ohio House this week, sponsor testimony was heard on House Bill 271, legislation that would establish a grant and loan program to coordinate and expand access to natural gas. The program would be funded by excess revenue in the Oil and Gas Well Fund and/or future appropriations made by the General Assembly. Businesses, non-profits, and local governments would be eligible to apply for funding.

Also this week, the House passed House Bill 201, legislation designed to prohibit local governments from banning or blocking consumers from obtaining natural gas hookups. The OMA worked with the bill sponsor and other interested parties to ensure the intent of the bill matched its language.

The OMA will continue to follow both bills, which will be discussed at the OMA’s May 27 Energy Committee meeting. Register here. 5/6/2021