Thursday, December 5, 2013
On December 4, 2013, ELPC and allies claimed victory against an effort to re-write Ohio energy law, stifle development of renewables, cripple energy efficiency efforts and jack-up consumer electricity bills. When it became clear he did not have the votes to advance his bill, Ohio State Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) withdrew SB58. ELPC worked closely with environmental, business and consumer rights groups across the state to preserve Ohio’s clean energy standards. While this hard fought victory is important, Seitz has promised to return in 2014 with a “three-pronged” effort to supplant Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable energy laws. Stay tuned.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
While one Ohio utility fights efficiency, another embraces it
By Karen Uhlenhuth
While one of Ohio’s investor-owned utilities has been pushing for the past year to dismantle the state’s energy-efficiency requirement, another has just agreed with several environmental and consumer groups on a five-year efficiency plan that will exceed the energy savings required by the law.
Duke Energy, which serves about 645,000 residential and 63,500 business customers in the state, last week filed a planwith the Public Utility Commission of Ohio to reduce electricity use among its customers by 5.7 percent by the end of 2018. The state standard requires it to reduce power use by only 4.9 by that time.
“We are convinced their plan will achieve that,” said Rob Kelter, a senior attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center, one of the organizations that worked with Duke to develop the plan.
According to the ELPC, the reductions outlined in the plan will save at least 442,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity over three years, saving Duke’s customers more than $40 million. It’s roughly equivalent to the amount of power consumed by 46,500 homes in a year.
The plan just filed with the state utility regulator, while short on details, commits Duke to collaborate with several energy and environmental organizations to enhance Duke’s current suite of efficiency incentives and opportunities. Under the agreement, for example, Duke agrees to a range of initiatives including:
- Working with the Natural Resources Defense Council to develop a “cool roof” component. The idea behind cool roofs, Kelter said, is to keep buildings cooler in summer by installing light-colored roofs that reflect light.
- Investigating possibly incorporating more LEDs into its lighting program
- Collaborating with interested customers in creating a potential incentive around combined heat and power
- Developing a pilot program aimed at enhancing the efficiency of information technology
- Teaming up with the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance to beef up and streamline energy-efficiency efforts in the area served by both entities.
The ELPC and NRDC are members of RE-AMP, which also publishes Midwest Energy News.
While Duke and the environmental and consumer representatives agreed on the plan’s efficiency goal, Kelter said that many of the plan’s details will be worked out during the next three years. Although the plan projects out five years, the state requires that it be refined every three years.
Also, Ohio state Sen. Bill Seitz, who has led several challenges to the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standard, plans to introduce a bill in the next legislative session that would limit how much utilities can spend on efficiency programs.
Duke Energy and the other investor-owned utilities that serve Ohio have taken a very different position than FirstEnergy with regard to the state’s efficiency standard.
Blair Schroeder, a spokesman for Duke, said that the company “considers efficiency to be the fifth fuel. We fully embrace energy efficiency and demand response. We were doing it before a majority of other utilities in Ohio were. We are meeting and exceeding the state mandate. We take to heart that this can be a win-win.”
Kelter, from the ELPC, concurred. Duke and the others “have stayed on the sidelines and worked cooperatively with us on these plans,” he said. “FirstEnergy has been the outlier.”
Monday, February 25, 2013
ELPC Senior Attorney Faith Bugel was counsel for several of the Citizen Groups in a suit that lead to a settlement, announced today, requiring American Electric Power (AEP) to shutter three coal plants in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio by 2015 as well as bring more clean energy online to meet the region’s electricity needs. The suit included a coalition of 13 citizen groups (11 of which were represented by ELPC), 8 states, and the U.S. EPA.
For details, read our joint press release.
Monday, February 25, 2013
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Today a coalition of citizen groups, states and U.S. EPA announced a landmark settlement agreement with American Electric Power (AEP) requiring AEP to stop burning coal by 2015 at three power plants in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. AEP also agreed to replace a portion of these coal plants with new wind and solar investments in Indiana and Michigan, bringing more clean energy on line to meet the region’s electricity needs.
AEP will stop burning coal at the Tanners Creek Generating Station Unit 4 in Indiana, the Muskingum River Power Plant Unit 5 in Ohio, and the Big Sandy Power Plant Unit 2 in Kentucky. Collectively, a total of 2,011 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired power will retire as part of the settlement, removing almost 12 million tons of climate-disrupting carbon pollution and nearly 84,000 tons of sulfur dioxide pollution that the three coal-fired power plants spew into the air each year.
“Today’s agreement will protect public health, reduce the threat of climate disruption, and create a cleaner environment for families in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky,” said Jodi Perras, Indiana Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “Across the country, the coal industry faces unprecedented setbacks as its share of electricity generation plummets and the cost of coal continues to skyrocket. This agreement is only the latest sign of progress as our country continues to transition away from dirty, dangerous, and expensive coal-fired power plants.”
Today’s settlement comes in a lawsuit originally filed in a federal court in Ohio in 1999, and is a modification to a prior 2007 settlement . Other parties in the suit include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; eight states including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey; and 13 citizens groups including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ohio Citizen Action, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, and the Hoosier Environmental Council.
Coal-fired power plants are the nation’s largest source of mercury, sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution, carbon pollution and many other deadly pollutants that can trigger heart attacks and contribute to respiratory problems. According to estimates from the Clean Air Task Force, 203 deaths, 310 heart attacks, 3,160 asthma attacks, and 188 emergency room visits per year will be averted once the Muskingum River, Tanners Creek and Big Sandy power plants stop burning coal.
“Tanners Creek, Big Sandy, and Muskingum River are dirty and outdated plants that should have been cleaned up or retired decades ago,” said Shannon Fisk, an attorney with Earthjustice who was co-counsel for Sierra Club on this matter. “We’re glad AEP is going to retire these aging dinosaurs, and urge the company to ensure an equitable transition for the workers and communities most directly impacted by these retirements.”
“This agreement will not only cut pollution, it will fund the long term benefits of mitigation efforts that further clean our air and environment,” said Faith Bugel, Senior Clean Air Attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center, counsel for eleven of the Citizen Groups.
Under today’s settlement AEP agreed to install pollution-curbing dry sorbent injection (DSI) technology on its massive Rockport coal-fired power plant in Southern Indiana. The 2007 agreement had required AEP to install flue gas desulfurization (FGD) technology at the plant — a more expensive technology that results in greater pollution reductions — but Sierra Club and the other parties agreed to the DSI technology in return for an earlier installation date, the other coal plant retirements, and clean energy investments. AEP will also be required to either retire the two Rockport units in 2025 and 2028, respectively, or to install additional controls designed to achieve removal of at least 98 percent of the sulfur dioxide created by the burning of coal at those units.
Additionally, the agreement commits AEP to developing 50 MW of wind or solar power this year and an additional 150 MW of wind or solar power in Indiana or Michigan by 2015. AEP also agreed to invest $2.5 million to improve air quality in Indiana through various measures including retrofitting outdoor wood boilers, investing in distributed renewable generation, and land acquisition.
“Across the Midwest and the Great Plains, in states like Iowa and South Dakota that already get 20 percent of their energy from wind sources, clean energy is powering homes, putting people back to work, and protecting families from dangerous and expensive coal-fired power plants,” said Kerwin Olson, Executive Director of Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana. “Indiana has one of the fastest growing wind industries in the nation and is creating thousands of local jobs. This settlement builds on that success and will only accelerate Indiana’s and our nation’s responsible transition to an economy powered by clean, renewable, affordable sources of energy.”
“With enormous potential for jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency, it is critical that AEP use the next three years to invest in affordable clean energy projects and transition workers into new careers,” said Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council. “By replacing decades-old coal plants with homegrown, clean and affordable energy sources, AEP can do right by affected workers and their families, and continue clean energy job creation across Indiana and Ohio.”
The other citizens groups involved in the AEP settlement are the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Environmental Council, Clean Air Council, Environment America, National Wildlife Federation, League of Ohio Sportsmen, Izaak Walton League, and the Indiana Wildlife Federation. The above-mentioned groups are all represented by the Environmental Law and Policy Center.
The retirements of the Tanners Creek Generating Station in Indiana, the Muskingum River Power Plant and the Big Sandy Power Plant in Kentucky represent the 140th, 141st, and 142nd coal plants to retire or announce their retirement since 2010. Since January 2010, more than 50,000 megawatts of coal-fired power have been retired or committed for retirement nationwide.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
CHICAGO – The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) has launched PlugInChicagoMetro.org, a new tool to help educate consumers about electric cars available in the Chicagoland area in 2012. The interactive site includes comparative information about the seven makes/models of plug-in electric cars that are or will soon be available for purchase in the region, as well as information about electric rates, charging options, tax incentives, and other resources.
“Purchasing any car requires thoughtful consiaderation of many variables – on brand, color, price – and purchasing an electric car can involve an extra layer of research,” said Madeleine Weil, Senior Policy Advocate at ELPC. “PlugInChicagoMetro.org can help consumers by providing a central resource of information about the differences, benefits and decisions involved in being an electric car owner here in Chicago and the suburbs.”
ELPC is working to advance policies that support electric cars and public charging infrastructure in Chicago and the Midwest. “Electric and hybrid cars reduce our dependence on foreign oil, produce less pollution than conventional cars, and can help consumers save money at the gas pump,” said ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner. “We should also seize the opportunities to grow the clean car jobs of the future in the Midwest auto industry.”
According to Learner, government support for public charging stations powered by clean wind and solar power, entrepreneurial ingenuity in the business community and low-cost power available for nighttime charging are just some of the ingredients that will make Chicago a market leader. “The Chicago area can become one of the nation’s leading markets for these new clean electric, natural gas and hybrid vehicles,” he said.
More and more consumers are becoming interested in learning about electric vehicles. “There’s a lot of information about electric cars out there – from dealers selling a particular model, from ‘car guys’ obsessed with the innovative technology, from critics who will scrutinize any and all changes to the status quo – but we’re not any of those people,” Weil added. “We realize purchasing a car is a personal decision. We just want to provide a forum to help Chicago-area consumers make car-buying decisions for themselves and their families.”
For more information about electric vehicles available in the Midwest in 2012, please go to www.PlugInChicagoMetro.org.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
|Click to Download
||Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin
||The study profiles manufacturers and supply chain companies in the Midwest that are ready to begin making parts and putting people to work improving existing rail systems in the US. This includes 122 in Ohio, 99 in Indiana, 49 in Michigan, 84 in Illinois, 73 in Wisconsin, 26 in Minnesota and 7 in Iowa.
||This ELPC report finds that Wisconsin is home to more than 250 wind and solar supply chain businesses that are tied to more than 12,000 Wisconsin jobs. Old-line manufacturing companies are re-tooling to supply growing markets for clean energy equipment.Google Map
||This ELPC report finds that over 300 Illinois companies are working in the wind, solar or geothermal energy industries and employing over 18,000 people in the state. From old-line steel fabricators to high-tech start-ups, renewable energy is powering job growth and launching Illinois to the forefront of the green economy.Google Map
||This ELPC report finds there are 121 Michigan businesses working in solar energy and 120 companies involved in wind power. From old-line manufacturing companies retooling for this growing market to high tech R&D, renewable energy is driving business growth in Michigan. Solar and Wind power provide over 10,000 jobs in Michigan. The state ranks fourth in the nation for number of jobs in the solar industry and first in the nation for clean energy patents.Listen: ELPC BriefingGoogle Map
||This ELPC report finds that 106* Ohio companies are doing business with the wind power industry and 63 Ohio companies are part of the solar energy supply chain. Ohio’s strong manufacturing base and skilled workforce, together with supportive policies and smart investments have helped make Ohio a center for clean energy manufacturing. From major companies like First Solar and Cardinal Fastener to over 100 small manufacturers, developers and service firms; clean energy means business for Ohio.Coverage: Columbus DispatchCoverage: Toledo Blade*Since the printing of ELPC’s Ohio Wind Energy Supply Chain Report, the state of Ohio has released new numbers saying that 600 companies are tied to wind energy in that state.Google Map
||This ELPC report finds that Iowa’s wind power supply chain comprises 80 Iowa companies with a total of over 2,300 employees in manufacturing alone. The state ranks second nationally in total wind energy generation. With local manufacturers building everything from huge turbine blades to small electrical components, and service firms providing maintenance, legal, marketing and other support to the industry, wind power means business for Iowa.The report states that a commitment to business development combined with tax incentives, a skilled workforce and a central location have helped make Iowa a leader in the wind industry.Listen: ELPC BriefingCoverage: Cedar Rapids GazetteGoogle Map
||This ELPC report finds that more than 100 Illinois companies with a total of over 15,000 employees. These companies range from old-line manufacturers who are retooling to build wind turbine components for the new clean energy economy to corporate headquarters for major wind power developers, to software, financial and support services.Listen: ELPC’s Briefing
Thursday, January 29, 2009
In his recent State of the State address, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland listed passenger rail service between Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland as a key part of the plan to stimulate economic growth and make Ohio stronger. He received a standing ovation from the audience as he said:
“We will work toward the restoration of passenger rail service between Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. Our goal is to link Ohio’s three largest cities by passenger rail for the first time in 40 years. This will be a first step toward a rail system that links neighborhoods within a city, and cities within our state.”
Ohio’s Department of Transportation and Amtrak have begun planning for rail service that would connect the state’s 3 largest cities by 2010. The state has requested federal stimulus funding for this project and for development of the more extensive Ohio Hub System. ELPC is working with partner organizations such as All Aboard Ohio to organize the already strong grassroots support for smart, efficient passenger rail transportation in Ohio.
Take Action: Ask Congress to adequately fund passenger rail in the economic stimulus
Full text of Governor Strickland’s speech is available here
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Promoting Energy Efficiency
Advancing Renewable Energy
Revising Building Code Standards
Advancing High-Speed Rail
Promoting Energy Efficiency
Increasing the efficiency of electricity is often the cheapest and easiest way to reduce global warming pollution and conserve natural resources. Ohio now requires investor-owned utilities to file 3-year energy efficiency plans describing the programs the utilities will implement to help reduce energy consumption. ELPC is working in Ohio to ensure that utilities meet or exceed their energy efficiency requirements, and in the process reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, improve environmental quality, and save Ohioans money.
Advancing Renewable Energy
By 2025, 12.5% of Ohio’s energy must come from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. ELPC is helping to create the necessary markets for renewable energy development in Ohio and leveraging our solar energy efforts in other Midwestern states to create a policy that will help develop clean, renewable sources of energy in Ohio.
Following ELPC’s legal advocacy, Ohio Utility Company FirstEnergy has agreed to obtain long-term renewable energy development contracts through a competitive bid process. As a result, roughly 3,000 homes will now be powered with Ohio-sited renewable energy.
Revising Building Code Standards
ELPC is working with a wide range of private, public, and non-profit partners to revise Ohio’s residential building code standards and help Ohioans live in more comfortable, cost effective homes. By setting stricter requirements for efficiency through minimum standards for insulation, windows, and heating and cooling, homeowners will save money while reducing fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
Advancing High-Speed Rail
In an era of high gasoline prices, expressway congestion at all hours, airport capacity constraints, and a shrinking pool of rural transportation choices, the Midwest needs improved passenger rail service now more than ever. With ten major cities within a 400-mile radius of Chicago, the Midwest represents the nation’s greatest opportunity to develop high-speed rail. A regional high-speed rail network would significantly reduce traffic congestion, travel time, air pollution, and urban sprawl. In Ohio, this can start with the “3-C Line.” Connecting Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati by passenger rail will allow Ohioans to move quickly, easily, and efficiently across the state. By starting with the 3-C Line, Ohio can be poised for expansion into a wider, regional high-speed transportation network.
Friday, September 5, 2008
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Farmers and rural residents can discover more about the new Farm Bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) as part of the Clean Energy Funding Opportunities Workshop to be held Sept. 12, at the Sawmill Creek Resort and Conference Center, 400 Sawmill Creek Drive, Huron, Ohio.
REAP provides funding to rural small businesses and agricultural producers to help finance the installation of renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements. Grants and loan guarantees are available for businesses interested in installing an on-site renewable energy generation system using wind, solar, biomass and/or geothermal technology. Funding is also available to install energy efficiency improvements designed to reduce energy use and better control energy costs.
The half-day workshop features keynote addresses from the USDA-Rural Development Undersecretary Tom Dorr and Ohio Ninth District Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo. Presentations from USDA, the Ohio Energy Office and others will help participants start the research, planning and grant application process for the upcoming 2009 program year.
The Clean Energy Funding Opportunities Workshop is sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT), USDA-Rural Development, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and the Ohio Farmers Union.
Contact CIFT at www.cift.eisc.org for registration and more information. There is no cost to attend the workshop, but seating is limited.