Energy Exchange

New report: 5 energy innovations that Ohio can use to attract $25 billion in investment

Why should Ohio ramp up its investment in energy innovation? More than 20,000 jobs and $25 billion in capital are on the line.

That’s according to a new report that outlines a vision for Ohio’s energy future and economic development. The report draws from the insights and experiences of a diverse group of advisors from across the state’s business, regulatory, academic, labor, and manufacturing sectors.

Here’s why now is a prime moment for Ohio to seize this multibillion-dollar opportunity, which will bring about a cleaner, more efficient energy system for Ohioans.

Five big opportunities

With the state’s largest utility constantly asking for a bailout and state legislators repeatedly trying to gut clean energy standards, Ohio isn’t exactly a leader on energy innovation. But it can be.

The report by Synapse Energy Economics, called Powering Ohio: A Vision for Growth and Innovative Energy Investment, highlights five areas for growth:

  1. Attracting investment from corporate clean energy leaders;
  2. Electrifying transportation, with a focus on electric vehicles;
  3. Building new clean electricity generation, like wind and solar power;
  4. Boosting Ohio’s energy productivity through energy efficiency; and
  5. Investing in a 21st century electric grid.

Taking advantage of these five related opportunities will net more than 20,000 jobs and $25 billion in investment dollars for Ohio, while enhancing productivity and lowering costs. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Energy Innovation, Grid Modernization / Read 1 Response

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 »

Also posted in Electricity Pricing, FirstEnergy, Illinois / Comments are closed

Fundamentals should guide FERC on PJM’s misguided state policy proposal

Federal regulators are currently considering a proposal that could fundamentally alter how our nation’s power markets work in tandem with state-crafted public policies.

The change being considered, submitted by the nation’s largest grid operator, PJM, would increase electricity prices and undermine state policies in the 13 states and D.C. where PJM operates. Today, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), alongside other clean energy advocates, filed in opposition to this proposal.

PJM’s proposal before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is dense and complex (for a great primer on the universe of issues surrounding a similar proposal, see this blog post by NRDC and this article by Vox’s David Roberts). At its core, however, PJM’s proposal centers on a subject that is elemental to the electricity sector: the interplay and interaction between states and federal regulators. PJM should not thrust itself into a public policymaking role, nor should FERC become judge and jury of state policies. Instead, PJM and FERC should facilitate state policy choices. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Illinois, Market resilience, New Jersey, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

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

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 »

Also posted in FirstEnergy / Read 4 Responses

New federal tax law is a boon for electric utilities – another reason not to bail out Ohio’s coal and nuclear plants

BLOG UPDATE – FEBRUARY 16, 2018

Environmental Defense Fund and other environmental groups submitted comments [PDF] to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on the federal tax reform, and why the Commission should reconsider utilities’ requests to increase rates to help prop up their old coal and nuclear plants. The groups suggest the utilities should pass the savings back to customers and, in addition, consider using some of the funds to modernize the electric grid and benefit customers.

For the past few years, Ohio’s electric utilities have asked state lawmakers and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to bail out their old coal and nuclear plants. The storyline is, the power plants are losing money in the competitive wholesale market, so the utilities want customers to subsidize the losses and allow the plants to stay open.

To keep old plants running is throwing good money after bad. And the new federal tax law will give utilities a huge bonanza anyway, so the requested subsidies are even more unnecessary.

Tax breaks and bailouts

The new federal tax law is a jackpot for electric utilities. Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late December, reducing the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. For the regulated businesses, the tax cut should benefit customers via lower electricity bills. But for the utilities’ unregulated businesses, the tax cut will benefit the utilities’ shareholders. Read More »

Also posted in FirstEnergy / Read 3 Responses

Give Ohio a real chance to win the Amazon HQ2 bid by keeping state clean energy standards intact

BLOG UPDATE – JANUARY 19, 2018

In 2016, Ohio lawmakers tried to gut the state’s clean energy standards, which had created thousands of jobs and saved Ohioans over $1 billion on their electricity bills. They almost succeeded, until Gov. John Kasich stood up for Ohio’s clean energy economy and vetoed the harmful bill.

Now state legislators are back with a new bill – House Bill 114 – that has the same agenda: Destroy Ohio’s renewable and energy efficiency standards.

By requiring electric utilities to lower energy-use and sell increasing amounts of renewable electricity, these standards send a signal to the investment community that Ohio is open for business. And businesses want clean energy – Amazon, for example, frequently decides where to locate its data centers and other facilities based, in part, on the availability of clean energy. The internet giant is currently looking for a site for its second headquarters (or HQ2), and Columbus, Ohio has just been named one of the top 20 finalists.

If Ohio legislators are serious about winning the estimated 50,000 jobs associated with Amazon’s new HQ2, the lawmakers should maintain the clean energy standards and reject House Bill 114. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency / Comments are closed