Energy Exchange

FirstEnergy’s next desperate idea: $300 million a year from Ohio taxpayers

For years, FirstEnergy has been looking for a get-out-of-bad-debt card to save it from its failing coal and nuclear plants. First, it tried for a $3 billion bailout from the Ohio Public Utility Commission (PUCO) and failed. Then it went begging in Washington for a federal bailout and failed. It won a $600 million bailout from the PUCO that Environmental Defense Fund is appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Now it has convinced some Columbus lawmakers to introduce H.B. 6, a $300 million per year subsidy to keep the company’s flagging coal and nuclear plants alive and simultaneously kill clean energy standards that have made Ohioans’ air cleaner and created thousands of jobs in the state. H.B. 6 will increase utility bills by $300 million a year for all utility customers, even if they buy their electricity from other suppliers. It’s a corporate handout, plain and simple, and it flies in the face of free market principles. Legislators that value the free market should reject it outright.

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Posted in General / Comments are closed

Nightmare on Capitol Square: New coal and nuclear bailout bill is a huge blow to Ohio’s clean energy economy

Ohio’s electric industry is thriving and our energy supply is getting cleaner, with average power costs well below the national average. This dreamy scenario is the envy of other states – but Ohio’s legislators are plotting in the Capitol Square statehouse to turn this dream into a nightmare.

This nightmare is a new bill that not only subsidizes uneconomic coal and nuclear plants, but also guts the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards that have led to more than $1 billion in savings and thousands of new jobs for Ohioans. In an Orwellian twist, the legislators are trying to sneak this bailout through by calling it a “clean air resource” bill.

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Posted in Clean Energy, Ohio / Read 2 Responses

Will the Ohio Supreme Court shut down FirstEnergy’s bailout once and for all?

Update: The oral argument for FirstEnergy’s case at the Ohio Supreme Court – described below – will begin on January 9, 2019, and a ruling is expected later this year. 

For years, FirstEnergy has been seeking a bailout for its uneconomic coal and nuclear plants. The Ohio-based utility finally got its wish in late 2016, when the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved more than $600 million in customer-funded subsidies.

The money was intended to help improve the credit ratings of FirstEnergy and its parent company, FirstEnergy Corp. But the parent company’s supposed financial hardship is not the responsibility of the utility’s customers, nor is it under the PUCO’s purview.

In their brief to the Ohio Supreme Court, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), and Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) explain why the bailout is unreasonable and should be overturned – which would send a clear signal to other subsidy-seeking coal companies across the country. Read More »

Posted in FirstEnergy, Ohio / Read 4 Responses

Grinch utilities and regulators spoil holidays by forcing customers to pay billions for Midwest coal plants

Thanks to Midwest utilities, regulators and a pair of unprofitable power plants, electricity customers in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana will get a lump of coal this holiday season. The owners keep running these plants at a big loss – projected at over $5 billion – resulting in higher electricity prices and polluting power that isn’t needed.

A challenging setup

As part of the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC), the two plants sit in southern Ohio and Indiana. Nearly 65 years old, these plants were built to power a plant in Piketon, Ohio that enriched uranium for nuclear weapons for the Cold War. The uranium facility ceased operations in 2001, but the power plants continue on.

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Posted in FirstEnergy, General, Ohio / Comments are closed

Ohio continues move to smarter power system with multimillion-dollar clean-energy agreement

Over the past few years, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has actively opposed FirstEnergy in several cases where it sought bailouts for its uneconomic coal plants. We will continue to do so.

But if the utility giant wants to build a cleaner, more modern grid, we are eager to work together. Case in point: We are pleased to report that we reached an agreement on FirstEnergy’s plan to spend $516 million on grid modernization, bringing about lower bills, greater customer choice and less pollution.

Following AEP and Dayton Power & Light’s related agreements – both approved earlier this year – and in the midst of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s (PUCO) innovative PowerForward initiative, it’s clear Ohio is on a path to a smarter, more sophisticated power system. Read More »

Posted in FirstEnergy, Grid Modernization, Ohio, Voltage Optimization / Comments are closed

Dear FirstEnergy, America doesn’t need your coal plants

Why do grocers mark down the price of asparagus in the spring, or strawberries in the summer? Because they’re in season and stores have excess supply, and they need to increase demand by cutting prices. The lower prices are a sign, or “price signal,” of excess supply, and the grocers are following the economic law of supply and demand.

Electricity markets follow the law of supply and demand, too. Falling electricity prices are a price signal that we have more power plants than we need. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which oversees our nation’s electric grid, reports on wholesale electricity prices, and their latest State of the Markets report is an eye-opener.

The report shows that we’re retiring old coal plants at a fast clip, but we’re adding new natural gas plants at an even faster clip – causing power prices to plummet. In PJM, the largest regional electricity market in the country, 1.9 GW of coal plants closed in 2017 as 2.8 GW of new natural gas plants were added. Read More »

Posted in Electricity Pricing, FirstEnergy, Illinois, Ohio / Comments are closed