Blog › Clean energy in Ohio: A tale of two utilities


Clean energy in Ohio: A tale of two utilities

Marc Lefkowitz  |  02/19/13 @ 2:00pm  |  Posted in Clean energy

Convinced that clean energy has a future (or no) in Ohio? A massive wind farm or crickets—it depends largely on who is your utility.

Give wind a turn<br />Columbus' utility AEP is buying the power from this Ohio wind farm. Image: West Bend News.

If you are one of Columbus-based American Electric Power’s five million customers, your home could be drawing from the clean power produced on a 99 megawatt wind farm in Northwest Ohio (pictured) that the utility agreed to buy.

AEP’s power supply is still 64% coal, 24% natural gas, but its agreements with clean energy developers have led to 1,013 megawatts coming off wind farms in Ohio and Indiana.

AEP has a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 10% below 2010 levels by 2020, and is the reason impoverished rural Ohio counties like Paulding are starting to see millions of revenue flow in from wind power, and are excited by the promise of 800 wind turbines spinning in the future.

Then, there’s FirstEnergy. The Akron-based utility has been waging a legislative battle to have Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) removed for the past two years.

The 2008 law creates a statewide marketplace for advanced and renewable energy by mandating that Ohio’s investor-owned utilities diversify their generation sources such as wind, solar, biomass, energy efficiency and clean coal technologies.

Ohio’s utilities must sell 12.5% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, including 6% produced in the state, or face fines. The renewables mandate ramps up yearly. FirstEnergy has failed to comply with the RPS but has skirted fines by filing appeals.

For the last several years, Ohio’s largest utility has been the state’s biggest opponent of clean energy, Environment Ohio wrote last week in “First Energy’s Top Ten Attacks on Clean Energy.”

FirstEnergy has succeeded in getting the Ohio Senate to once again take up the call to repeal the 2008 Ohio Clean Energy Law. Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) found that its practices intentionally thwart the RPS. FirstEnergy also lobbied and succeeded in convincing the PUCO last month to kill a 50 megawatt solar farm that another company, AEP, wanted to support through a power purchase agreement in Zainesville. It would have been the largest solar farm east of the Mississippi River.

When will utilities like FirstEnergy learn from American Electric Power how to effectively manage their portfolio and meet some basic level of commitment to improving Akron and Cleveland’s air quality and health of its 4 million residents?

How will we get to the clean energy future we all desire? Check out our goals for a clean energy future, and add your thoughts.

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Allen C
5 years ago

Well said Marc. Would be even better if we had some state of the art battery storage capabilities.

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