They say crises don’t test your character, they reveal it. I believe they do the same thing to your vision of the future. Times are tough for Ohio’s FirstEnergy, and CEO Chuck Jones is signaling where he wants the utility to be in the future: the past.
First, we need to look back to last year, when Jones pushed the Ohio legislature to halt state efficiency and renewable energy standards that helped reduce electricity demand and saved Ohio customers millions of dollars.
This year, Jones’ vision quest is a $3 billion bailout – to be paid for by his customers – that would guarantee the purchase of power generated by FirstEnergy’s older and costlier power plants. In a recent op-ed, Jones argued that the deal would secure Ohioan’s energy independence. Read More
Over the past few months, I have written a good deal about FirstEnergy, the massive electric utility serving customers across six states, and specifically its attempts to saddle Ohioans with the cost of its risky investments. The company has asked the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to guarantee profits for its uneconomic power plants through customer-funded subsidies.
FirstEnergy has also prevented opponents of its bailout from examining all relevant information to the case, including the credibility of its key witnesses. But, last week, the PUCO rejected these attempts to hide information about FirstEnergy’s embattled $3 billion proposal. As we near the start of the proposed bailout hearings on August 31st, this decision is a victory for transparency – and places the utility’s proposal on shakier ground than ever.
The full story involves a consultant – Judah Rose of ICF International – who FirstEnergy hired to justify the bailout. Rose was asked to project future electricity market prices, which would determine the economic value of the power generation plants in question. This contributed to how FirstEnergy settled on the figures for its bailout request. Read More
All around the country, we are seeing signs of innovation when it comes to the electricity industry. The state of New York is performing a comprehensive review of related technologies and business practices, Illinois is modernizing the electric grid and empowering customers to save energy by creating transparency around smart meter data, and the wind industry in Texas continues to set new records. The U.S. grid is truly beginning to evolve from the system Thomas Edison created 100 years ago, moving toward a more flexible grid that runs on clean, renewable resources.
Yet some players – with significant revenue and power – are not on board. FirstEnergy, the Akron-based utility giant, has been clinging to the past and waging war on clean energy in Ohio, as I explain in my op-ed published today in the Akron Beacon Journal. The Beacon Journal is the hometown newspaper of FirstEnergy’s headquarters. Read More
All industries use acronyms, but anyone who reads this blog can attest the electricity sector seems to have more than its fair share. One of these acronyms – TRC – stands for Total Resource Cost and represents the key means by which utilities measure the cost effectiveness of energy efficiency. Another – DR – is demand response, or a voluntary energy conservation tool that rewards people who use less electricity during times of peak, or high, energy demand.
Getting each of these acronyms – and their associated clean energy resources – right is critical if we are to run our electric grid as efficiently as possible. Fortunately for Pennsylvania’s clean energy economy, the state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) last week took a commendable step toward more fairly valuing both energy efficiency and demand response. Read More
Source: Green Button
Data may be the most promising and powerful tool to advance energy efficiency, but we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of its potential. Fortunately, more and more customers across the country are obtaining access to information on their electricity usage and pricing data, and Pennsylvania may be one step closer to harnessing this resource.
EDF and Mission:data – a national coalition of technology companies that advance the use of energy data – recently encouraged the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to empower customers with data in an electronic form. Specifically, we are proposing the PUC adopt the Open Access Data Framework, which clarifies the type of electricity usage data all Pennsylvania customers and authorized third-parties have access to and how the data should be provided. Based on widely-adopted national standards, the Framework can help Pennsylvania effectively utilize and get the most out of its energy data.
Data, technology, and potential savings
Data access is central to customers realizing value from a utility’s investments in advanced energy measurement, and technology can further unlock the potential. But most people do not have the time to become an expert energy analyst simply to identify cost-effective efficiency opportunities. Therefore, most of us will rely on technologies, such as smart thermostats, and third parties to digest and synthesize meter data into actionable steps that increase efficiency, save money, and cut pollution. Read More
At the start of the 2015 Illinois legislative session, a diverse coalition came together to introduce and support the Illinois Clean Jobs bill – legislation which would strengthen Illinois’ energy efficiency policies, as well as update and extend the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The bill would also create a market-based strategy to meet new federal carbon regulations to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants, otherwise known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
So now that the regular legislative session has ended, where does the Clean Jobs bill stand?
A victory for the little guy
Initially, the Clean Jobs bill was far from the energy legislation spotlight. Two deep-pocketed companies also introduced bills. Exelon proposed a bailout for three of its uneconomic nuclear reactors. And Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) wanted to restructure its rates to ensure a profit because efficiency and clean energy had reduced the demand for power.
Most political observers felt Exelon and ComEd – which employ teams of lobbyists and enjoy substantial political clout – would quickly obtain what they asked for. Yet neither went anywhere, and it was actually the Clean Jobs legislation that obtained more co-sponsors than the Exelon and ComEd bills – combined. Read More