The Plain Dealer: Energy Efficiency was Projected to Cut Electric Consumption, Power Companies told the State

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio’s electric companies were on course to help their customers cut overall power use by as much as 33 percent in coming years before lawmakers froze state energy efficiency mandates.

Filed and forgotten at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the analyses and projections were drawn up by FirstEnergy, AEP Ohio, Duke Energy and Dayton Power & Light.

The 33 percent savings figure was based on the assumption that costs would not stand in the way of higher efficiency. But a more conservative estimate, looking only at solutions deemed to be cost effective, still put potential savings at 24 percent.

Despite those internal estimates of cost-effective savings, the industry lobbied against the efficiency mandates for years. Last year year, lawmakers led by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, froze the program; Seitz said it was supported by “enviro-socialists.”

Now, a nationally recognized group that advocates energy efficiency has taken another look at the utility reports in the PUCO’s files.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, or ACEEE, Wednesday issued its own report, a white paper making the case for a return of the state standards, based on those utility projections.

The four companies were asked to figure out how much power their efficiency programs could help customers save over 10 to 20 years.

Each utility projected the savings in at least two ways — maximum achievable, without consideration of the cost of the programs, and what could be achieved with “cost effective” programs, meaning the savings in using less electricity would be greater than the costs of the programs.

The reports were available to the public and mentioned at times by efficiency advocates in testimony to state lawmakers who wanted to kill the efficiency programs. The utilities never testified.

But lawmakers either ignored or dismissed references to the utility studies during the months of hearings before approving S.B. 310, the legislation that has frozen Ohio’s efficiency mandates for two years.

While the new analysis is the work of analysts employed by the ACEEE, which is a non-profit, funding for the report came in part from the Environmental Law and Policy Center and Natural Resources Defense Council, two groups that argued for keeping the mandates. Both opposed the freeze.

The ACEEE paper concludes “there is huge potential in Ohio to save families and businesses money on their utility bills through energy saving programs.”

Keep Reading

Press Release: New Analysis Shows Big Savings for Ohio with Energy Efficiency


August 26, 2015

Analysis: Significant Energy Efficiency Savings Available to Ohioans for Years to Come

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new analysis finds huge potential in Ohio to save families and businesses money on their utility bills through energy saving programs. This study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which examines reports from Ohio utilities as well as industry-standard programs that Ohio has yet to take into account, concludes the state has significant, cost-effective, and untapped energy efficiency potential just waiting to be utilized.

Ohio’s four major electric utilities-AEP, Dayton Power & Light, Duke Energy, and FirstEnergy-are seeking ways to reduce their energy consumption 22.2% by 2027. These utilities have been running wildly successful energy efficiency programs for homes and businesses since at least 2010, saving Ohioans over $1 billion on their energy bills and delivering customers a 2:1 return on their investment. ACEEE concludes Ohio’s utilities will be able to continue to meet these energy efficiency goals through cost-effective programs that provide tremendous benefits for customers.

Beyond the significant untapped savings Ohio’s utilities could be capturing, the ACEEE report finds that the state has not even scratched the surface of the benefits available to Ohioans over the long term. These include currently available and cost-effective programs like LED lighting, multi-family housing retrofits, combined heat and power projects, and low-interest financing opportunities.

The report also finds increased potential for emerging technologies-potential that Ohio has yet to capture. Technologies such as smart thermostats and advanced clothes dryers can give customers more choice on how they use energy and help save money. With the clean energy industry evolving at a rapid pace, innovation in energy efficiency has also come faster than expected, in some cases with rapidly falling prices. For example, the price of LED lighting has decreased over 85% in the last five years.

“Innovation in energy-efficient products and services creates enormous opportunities for cost-effective energy savings, and helps customers make smarter choices about how they use energy,” said Maggie Molina, utilities, state, and local policy director at ACEEE. “Thankfully for Ohio, utilities recognize some of the opportunities to capture these emerging technologies and will be able to help their customers save money over the coming years.”

Molina continued, “Our report finds even more ground can be covered at low cost in areas where Ohio could see benefits immediately, like multifamily housing and LEDs, and in technologies such as ‘smart’ thermostats that are just now emerging.”

When utilities run better and more innovative programs that target a wide range of consumers, they add to Ohio’s growing clean energy economy. For example, AEP estimated that its energy efficiency programs will create 4,000 jobs over the next few years. And that’s just one of four major utilities that run programs in the state.

Energy efficiency companies in Ohio see this potential first hand.

According to Greg Smith, President and CEO of Energy Optimizers, USA in Tipp City, Ohio, which retrofits schools and other government buildings across the state, “We’re only hitting the tip of the iceberg in Ohio with how much we can improve the efficiency of homes and businesses, along with commercial and industrial facilities. In the last few years, my business has taken off as we continue to rapidly expand our team. We’ve grown from a true start-up to a $14,000,000 a year company. We have smart people from right here in Ohio who we want to put to work immediately. It’s that simple-we just need the right ingredients and investments to make it happen.”

Unfortunately, the future of these programs is in jeopardy.

Just as energy efficiency and renewable policies were taking off following the 2008 enactment of SB 221<http://archives.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=127_SB_221>, Ohio passed SB 310<http://archives.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_SB_310>, which froze these policies at their 2014 levels and pushed back the deadline to meet the 22.2% energy efficiency target by two years. A committee was established to examine the clean energy policies and determine their fate, which remains uncertain.

“Across Ohio, residential, business, and industrial customers are saving money because of utility energy efficiency programs,” said Madeline Fleisher, staff attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “As technologies advance, these opportunities are growing, but achieving this potential will require strong programs that are available to all utility customers. Continuing these programs will position Ohio as a leader in the clean energy sector, providing lower customer bills, creating sustainable jobs, and cutting pollution.”

The committee is set to release a report in September and may make recommendations on the future of Ohio’s energy landscape, including whether these cost-saving programs will continue to exist.

According to Samantha Williams, energy policy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Energy efficiency efforts in Ohio still have plenty of fruit to bear. Luckily Ohioans are still craving ways to save money by lowering their energy use, which brings all kinds of benefits like cleaner air and more jobs to the state. This report adds to the mounting evidence, and hopefully the committee will come to the same conclusion ACEEE did-that these programs are integral to low-cost power and will continue to reap benefits for Ohioans today and tomorrow.”

A link to the full ACEEE report can be found here: http://aceee.org/white-paper/ohio-potential



Midwest Energy News: Agency considers further delay on Ohio River mercury rule

A 12-year extension allowing power plants and other industrial polluters to exceed mercury standards as wastewater enters the Ohio River could be stretched out even further, if a proposal before an interstate regulatory board is approved.

The question before the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) is whether dischargers should continue to be allowed to use “mixing zones” for high levels of mercury that will be diluted downstream to levels meeting the standards.


National Journal: Can John Kasich Find Sunlight On Clean Energy?

When it comes to en­ergy, John Kasich seems to like liv­ing in the murky middle. But he can’t stay there forever.

Un­like his Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial chal­lengers, the Ohio gov­ernor hasn’t been vir­u­lently in deni­al of cli­mate-change sci­ence, nor has he fully em­braced the sci­entif­ic con­sensus that it is caused by man. He has said he sees a role for clean en­ergy, but he hasn’t defined how the gov­ern­ment should (or shouldn’t) sup­port it. He’s touted emis­sions re­duc­tions, but also spouted con­cerns about job losses from cli­mate ac­tion.

When it comes to Pres­id­ent Obama’s cli­mate rules for power plants, Kasich has been crit­ic­al and his state at­tor­ney gen­er­al has sued the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency seek­ing a stay. But Kasich hasn’t said his state will try to skip the rules en­tirely, un­like oth­er Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernors and pres­id­en­tial con­tenders Louisi­ana’s Bobby Jin­dal and Wis­con­sin’s Scott Walk­er.

As Kasich has moved up in the Re­pub­lic­an polls, he has em­phas­ized his lack of red-line con­ser­vat­ive val­ues, like in a Sunday in­ter­view on CNN where he said Re­pub­lic­ans had “al­lowed them­selves to be put in a box” on so­cial is­sues. And en­vir­on­ment­al­ists say that in his some­times fuzzy mod­er­ate po­s­i­tions, there’s a chance for Kasich to take a more defin­it­ive stance on en­ergy that sets him apart from the rest of the Re­pub­lic­an field.

He will likely have to weigh in one way or the oth­er soon as his home state is con­sid­er­ing wheth­er or not to con­tin­ue its freeze on a re­new­able-power stand­ard, with a le­gis­lat­ive re­port out this fall that will force the is­sue back in­to head­lines. With the state also con­sid­er­ing how to meet EPA emis­sion-re­duc­tion rules, greens in the state say they plan to push Kasich to take a more ag­gress­ive lead­er­ship role on the is­sue in the state, even while he con­tin­ues his na­tion­al cam­paign.

Earli­er this month, Kasich re­spon­ded to a ques­tion about cli­mate change by say­ing, “We don’t want to des­troy people’s jobs based on some the­ory that’s not proven,” but later said that “man ab­so­lutely af­fects the en­vir­on­ment.” His cam­paign then tried to cla­ri­fy those re­marks by say­ing, “The gov­ernor has long be­lieved cli­mate change is real and we need to do something about it.”

Kasich’s re­cord in his home state doesn’t present a clear or­tho­doxy on en­ergy. He came in­to of­fice em­bra­cing an “all of the above” strategy that he said could bal­ance Ohio’s tra­di­tion­al coal mix with emer­ging shale-gas re­sources and re­new­able power. After a 2011 two-day en­ergy sum­mit in Colum­bus, Kasich pro­duced astrategy built around 10 pil­lars for the state’s en­ergy policy that he said would “sup­port a di­verse mix of re­li­able low-cost en­ergy sources that meet Ohio’s con­tinu­ing job-cre­ation needs.”

Keep Reading

Press Release: Environmental Law & Policy Center Commends President Obama, U.S. EPA on Final Clean Power Plan

For Immediate Release

August 3, 2015

Environmental Law & Policy Center Commends
President Obama, U.S. EPA on Final Clean Power Plan;
Will Partner With Regional Leaders for Smart Implementation

Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

“The Clean Power Plan is our nation’s strongest step forward to reduce carbon pollution by accelerating clean solar energy and wind power solutions. Solving our climate change problems is the moral, economic, policy and political challenge of our generation. The Plan’s clean energy development solutions will create Midwest jobs, improve global public health and protect our Great Lakes ecosystem.”

“The Clean Power Plan gives states flexibility for implementation strategies that maximize the benefits of both cutting carbon pollution and growing the clean energy economy. The Environmental Law & Policy Center’s experts on the ground will work with the Midwest’s local stakeholders on plans that will deploy clean technologies to hold down utility bills, create jobs and improve environmental quality.”

“For Midwest manufacturing centers, today’s news is a signal to advance the clean renewable energy and energy efficiency supply chain businesses producing modern equipment. For the Midwest’s rural areas, today’s news is a signal that wind power development will keep growing and provide a new income stream for farmers, spur rural economic development and improve the environment for everyone. For cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Des Moines, Detroit, Indianapolis and Minneapolis, today’s news means a new era of solar panels on rooftops and more energy efficiency buildings that can better energize our urban communities.

“It’s time for the Midwest’s Congressional Delegation and Governors to step up and seize this opportunity to modernize our aging energy system and gain the benefits of growing the new clean energy economy. Let’s end the political squabbling and move forward with smart climate change solutions that are good for many Midwestern businesses and good for our environment.”


Courthouse News Service: Thirty-one States Fight Clean Water Rule

(CN) – Attorneys general from 31 states asked the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to delay implementation of a Clean Water Act rule for at least 9 nine months for judicial review.
The rule defines “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. The states claim it asserts federal jurisdiction over streams, wetlands and other water bodies previously considered to be under state jurisdiction.
The EPA cited the need for clean drinking water and clean water as an economic driver as the impetus for its new rule, and Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 in which justices disagreed about which waters were covered by the Act.
“About 117 million Americans – one in three people – get drinking water from streams that lacked clear protection before the Clean Water Rule,” the EPA said in a May 27 statement about the new rule. “The health of our rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters are impacted by the streams and wetlands where they begin.”


Toledo Blade: Toxic Algae Leave Toledo’s Reputation Hanging in the Balance

This much has become clear on the one-year anniversary of the Toledo water crisis: Perception can be stronger than reality when weighing the risks of western Lake Erie algae.

And — whether or not another crisis occurs — failing to stop the lake’s chief algal toxin, microcystin, from coming back on a yearly basis could devastate Toledo’s attempt to rebrand itself as a forward-thinking, 21st century place to live, work, and play.

Has summertime panic over drinking water become the new norm?

People were wondering that last week as they cleared bottled water off supermarket shelves in preparation for this summer’s bloom, which — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says — is likely to gain strength and become the second largest on record when it peaks in late summer or early fall.

Whether it is smart thinking or panic, people are stockpiling.


Press Release: Environmental Groups Deliver Petitions to ORSANCO Calling for them to Uphold Mercury Anti-dumping Standards for Ohio River


Environmental Groups Deliver Petitions to ORSANCO Calling for them to Uphold Mercury Anti-Dumping Standards for Ohio River

Technical committee meets today to decide recommendations

Cincinnati, OHIO – A coalition of environmental groups will deliver close to 2,000 petitions today to a subcommittee of a multi-state commission urging members to recommend following through with new standards that forbid companies from dumping high levels of toxic mercury into the Ohio River. Mercury is a known neurotoxin that causes brain and nerve damage to children and developing fetuses.

Twelve years ago, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, known as ORSANCO, banned companies located along the Ohio River from releasing large amounts of mercury into the water through the use of mercury dilution zones. The ban on these “mixing zones” is scheduled to go into effect in October in order to improve the safety of fish consumption caught in the river and overall protection of public health. Dozens of coal plants and factories in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and elsewhere haven’t yet complied with this long-planned ban and many are now asking the commission to create exceptions to that ban or eliminate it completely. ORSANCO, which oversees water pollution and abatement standards on the Ohio River, has said it’s considering their request.

Environmental groups have been collecting signed petitions urging ORSANCO to stick to its original ban set in place more than a decade ago – and already delayed by 2 years – rather than give in to pressure from businesses that have failed to take even initial steps to comply with mercury mixing zone standards, according to Madeline Fleisher, staff attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Columbus, Ohio. ORSANCO’s technical committee, which is reviewing comments submitted by environmental groups and others during the public comment period last spring, is meeting today in Cincinnati to discuss recommendations it will submit to the commission.

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center and our partners are pressing ORSANCO to do the right thing by ensuring there’s a level playing field requiring concrete steps to reduce the amount of damaging mercury that polluters are dumping into the Ohio River,” said Ms. Fleisher.

The Ohio River is the public water supply for more than 5 million people, and it ranks at the top of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of dirtiest rivers, in part because of high mercury levels. The petitions delivered to ORSANCO today were gathered by ELPC, the Kentucky Water Alliance, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, the National Wildlife Federation and other environmental group allies. Last May, more than 17,000 petitions from environmental groups were delivered to ORSANCO during its public comment period.

“We want the state and federal appointed officials tasked with improving water quality in the Ohio River to uphold the ban on chemical hot spots, or mixing zones,” said Judy Peterson, executive director of the Kentucky Water Alliance. “We want government officials to put public health before corporate profits.”

“Citizens up and down the Ohio River are saying ‘clean water can’t wait,’” said Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “They won’t accept delay or backsliding when it comes to reducing dangerous toxins in their water supply.”

The commission is slated to make its decision by fall and announce its new pollution control standards at its scheduled October 8 meeting. The 27-member commission is charged to conduct a review of its pollution abatement and control standards every three years.










The Columbus Dispatch: AEP reports quarterly profit of $430 million, criticizes PUCO

With rising profit and a quote from Plato, American Electric Power provided new details Thursday about what has been a strong year — and then paused in the celebration to raise concerns about Ohio regulators.

The Columbus-based utility reported second-quarter profit of $430 million, up from $390 million in the prior-year quarter. Sales were $3.9 billion, down from $4 billion.

“It was Plato who said ‘There is no harm in repeating a good thing,’  ” Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and CEO, said in a conference call with analysts.

He quoted the ancient Greek philosopher because AEP is increasing its earnings forecast for the year, something that the company also did last year.

The new forecast is for net income of $3.50 to $3.65 per share, up from the prior range of $3.40 to $3.60 per share.

In addition, the company is using some of its profit to increase spending on long-term construction projects by $200 million, pulling forward projects that otherwise would have been in 2016 or later.

“So we aren’t popping the champagne corks or anything like that, but we are leaving the second quarter with a smile of quiet confidence as we enter the second half of 2015,” Akins said.

But not everything is rosy. He raised concerns that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has not made a prompt ruling on the company’s request for an income guarantee for certain coal-fired power plants.

The proposal, and a similar one from Akron-based FirstEnergy, has been pending since 2014. The companies have said they need the income guarantees to protect against volatility in the electricity market. Without the regulatory changes, which would initially lead to small rate increases for consumers, the companies say they may need to shut down some of the plants.

“Continual delays are not the answer,” he said. “It is time for the PUCO to do the right thing.”

Many groups — including environmentalists, consumer advocates and some businesses — are urging regulators to reject the proposals.

Keep Reading

Columbus Dispatch: Scrapping of mercury-pollution rule for Ohio River under fire

A multistate commission that oversees the health of the Ohio River is considering relaxing rules on mercury pollution, which has long been considered a threat to the river and the people who eat its fish.

The proposed changes have prompted nearly 18,000 written responses from people who live near the river and from environmental-advocacy groups saying that changing the rules could increase mercury in the already-polluted river.

But the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, whose members represent eight states and set pollution standards for the river, says the proposed changes would not result in added mercury in the river. The debate is over how and where industries test the amount of mercury they release.


ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now