For critics of the “ratepayer bailout” that Ohio handed to FirstEnergy for its aging, dirty coal power this week, an answer may be to stimulate the market for alternatives.
Because of Ohio’s deregulated energy market, more homeowners have been introduced to the option of shopping for green power in recent years.
We did a little browsing for details on Cleveland’s and the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council’s (NOPEC) green power offers, and found that the deals are getting better.
NOPEC, a non-profit council of governments, offers an aggregation service where it negotiates on behalf of entire communities like the suburbs of Shaker Heights and South Euclid, for group rates on electric power. It has introduced a program where residential customers can opt in to 100% green power.
Both Cleveland and the suburbs through NOPEC source most of their green power from wind and hydro produced in the U.S., providing a burgeoning market for clean energy investment on the supply side.
NOPEC works with First Energy Solutions to offer renewable energy at a fixed rate of 6.80 cents per kilowatt/hour. That is practically the same as the current price of 6.75 cents for the non-renewable, fixed option, says Case professor, Norm Robbins.
And yet, few have signed up for the program. In fact, Robbins was the first Shaker resident to sign on. He is working with a sustainability committee of citizens and Shaker Heights officials to improve participation.
What attracted Robbins to the program was his desire to take action on climate change.
“It’s so easy,” he said, “and a lot cheaper than buying a Prius. You drop your carbon emissions by 13%. Not bad for a phone call.”
Meanwhile, Cleveland is entering the second round of its green energy aggregation program. This time, a new supplier, Constellation Energy Services, Inc., will manage the city’s green energy procurement.
Two years ago, Cleveland inked a deal with First Energy Solutions that signed on nearly all 65,000 Cleveland Electric Illuminating (CEI) company customers to receive 100% renewable power at 21% below the floating, “cost to compare” rate. This year, the same segment of the Cleveland market will be opted in to 50% renewables, but at a fixed rate of 7 cents per kWh. That is competitive with the current price for power produced from coal, says Matt Gray, Director, Cleveland Office of Sustainability.
“The (price) projections for the next couple of years fluctuate wildly,” explains Gray. “The market is shifting to the point where it wasn’t competitive to offer 100% green power. We opted for price stability.”
Still, CEI customers in Cleveland who want to pay a small premium can opt in for 100% renewable electricity.
By striking a green power procurement deal, Cleveland offers its residents direct, low cost access to renewables, and it fulfills a commitment in its Climate Action Plan to lower its carbon emissions from energy use.
“We’re still going to be a top 20 city in green power procurement nationally,” Gray says. “I think it will have a big impact (on the city’s climate commitment), for sure.”