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Which Ohio utilities made the clean energy grade?

Marc Lefkowitz  |  03/01/11 @ 2:46pm

Environment Ohio's report card on the four investor-owned utilities' investment to meet the state's 2008 renewable portfolio standard is a nice summary of who's doing what and where ? with Northeast Ohio's provider, FirstEnergy, earning an 'F' for its slack effort in 2009.

The top performing utilities, Duke Energy (Cincy) and Dayton Power & Light, not only saved a large amount of energy through efficiency measures, but also led the state in their commitment to solar energy, concludes the non-profit research and policy center's report.

Duke Energy in particular succeeded in incorporating a large amount of solar energy, while both American Electric Power and FirstEnergy failed to procure much solar energy, though AEP has since invested heavily in solar.

Supply of Ohio-generated solar is no longer an excuse the utilities can fall back on, the report added. "The requirement that utilities pursue efficiency and procure renewable energy has launched a market?Solar development has been the most striking example.

In 2009, there was so little solar energy in Ohio that utilities were unable to purchase enough to meet their in-state requirement. By the end of 2010, however, the PUCO had certified 20 MW of solar facilities in Ohio, enough to power 2,400 homes and meet all the utilities' in-state solar requirement for 2010."

Meanwhile, FirstEnergy has "fallen behind." The utility met its renewable energy goal, and achieved 267 MW of peak demand reductions, but "fell well short" of both its solar and energy efficiency requirements-obtaining only 61 MWh of the 1,836 MWh required (it received a waiver from PUCO allowing it to meet the remainder of its 2009 requirements in future years).

FirstEnergy did not submit an efficiency plan to the PUCO in 2008; some of the utility's programs (such as the residential CFL bulb program) have been flawed; and another group, Policy Matters Ohio, concluded that its mercantile self-directed programs were "in large part counting savings achieved in the past rather than incentivizing customers to undertake new efficiency programs.

"FirstEnergy could have performed much better in 2009"-however, a recent 20-yr. agreement to purchase 100 MW of wind power from the Blue Creek Wind Farm and its RFP for a long-term solar power purchasing agreement could put it on track.

Environment Ohio concludes with policy recommendations to accelerate the renewable and energy efficiency scale up needed. They include:

  • Hold all utilities accountable
  • Ensure that energy efficiency programs deliver real savings to customers
  • Facilitate the signing of long-term contracts for renewable energy
  • Strengthen the renewable energy requirements of the Clean Energy Law
  • Require utilities to present information about their plans
  • Allow property owners to pay for clean energy over the lifetime of their investment
  • Restore the state's Advanced Energy Fund
  • Adopt the latest model energy codes from the International Codes Council

For the full report, go to http://www.environmentohio.org

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