Butler County looking at clean technology for public transportation

Officials in Butler County would like to bring hydrogen fuel cell or battery electric powered buses to the area to make local transportation cleaner and more sustainable, the Journal-News reports. The county needs to partner with a local agency or agencies to “fund the remainder of a vehicle’s price once federal grants are secured” to make that happen, according to the article. A diesel bus can cost $600,000, while a hydrogen fuel-cell bus is twice that at $1.2 million. Fuel cells “are considered safer than gasoline-powered vehicles and are two to three times more efficient,” reducing the amount of carbon emissions by 100 tons per vehicle. Butler County Regional Transit Authority Executive Director Matt Dutkevicz said battery electric or fuel-cell buses would be “a leap forward in local transportation in terms of reducing emissions and increasing sustainability.” For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Environmental

Growing solar company expanding to central Ohio

A solar energy and roofing company listed as one of Inc. 500’s fastest growing private companies wants to extend that growth into Central Ohio, Columbus Business First reports. Power Home Solar and Roofing, based in North Carolina, plans to hire 65-70 people for its new Worthington office. The company designs, sells, finances, installs and services home solar panels, as well as working in commercial, utility and government real estate, according to the article. Jayson Waller, a co-founder of Power Home Solar, said the company’s mission is to help consumers save money and “gain energy independence over the rising costs of power by harnessing the sun’s natural energy to create a cleaner environment for future generations.” For more, read the full article.  

Renewable Energy, State Updates

Athens residents vote for SOPEC carbon fee

A first-of-its-kind proposed 0.2-cent carbon fee for Athens city electrical customers (see our January 26, 2018 blog post) passed with 76.34 percent of the vote in the May election, The Athens News reports. The new carbon fee “will only apply to customers enrolled in the SOPEC [Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council] Opt-Out Electric Aggregation Program,” and will cost the average household using 800-900 kilowatt hours of electricity between $1.60 and $1.80 each month, according to the article. SOPEC Executive Director Eddie Smith said he is “extremely thrilled that we are going to be the first municipality in the entire United States that has figured out the carbon price program.” The carbon fee will help fund a community solar program; SOPEC will work with the Athens City Council and Mayor’s office to plan hearings to determine the rules for that program. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy

PUCO approves AEP plan to expand renewables, EV charging stations

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently approved AEP Ohio’s Electric Security Plan (ESP) that will allow the company to “expand access to electric vehicle (EV) charging and renewable generation,” nawindpower.com reports. AEP Ohio had previously committed to developing an additional 900 megawatts of renewable power generation in the state; the ESP “provides a method for AEP Ohio to request approval from the PUCO for the development of new renewable resources.” Additionally, a “program to expand EV charging station availability will be created as part of the Smart Columbus initiative.” Julie Sloat, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer, said the plan allows the company “to bring these services, which also will support economic development in Ohio, to customers across the state.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Renewable Energy, Smart Cities

Columbus turned $50M into $500M for Smart City through public-private partnerships

Winning the Federal Department of Transportation’s national Smart City challenge was a huge coup for Columbus (see our June 21, 2016 blog post), but turning the $50 million in grant money that came with the win into $500 million is “one of the greatest feats” the city has ever accomplished, TechRepublic reports. Investments from the private sector have helped Columbus accomplish that goal, and are expected to continue to bring in more funding, according to the article. Among the local investors: American Electric Power has pledged $170 million, The Ohio State University has pledged $64 million, and Nationwide Insurance has pledged $2 million. In the two months between the time the federal grant was announced and the application deadline, Columbus officials “were able to pull together $90 million in pledges from local businesses,” which impressed federal officials. Mike Keller, CIO of Nationwide, said, “[t]here was a high degree of public/private/academic participation prior to the grant and that made it a lot easier to come together.” For more, read the full article

Federal Updates, Smart Cities, State Updates

Renewable Hudson shining the light on solar for community

Cleveland-based solar installation company YellowLite joined with Renewable Hudson, an organization that promotes renewable energy in the city of Hudson, for a talk last month aimed to help community members better understand solar energy, MyTownNEO reports. The talk covered “how solar energy works,” why Ohio is in fact a good state for solar power, and how Hudson has already been supporting solar energy. Renewable Hudson conducted another talk recently at the Hudson Library, and YellowLite “frequently travels around the state to educate people on solar technology,” according to the article. Azam Kazmi, president of YellowLite, called Hudson “one of the strongest communities in Ohio for solar,” saying the city has a reputation for being progressive and business-friendly. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy

Smart City grant helps Columbus buys first electric fleet vehicles

The City of Columbus has made its largest expenditure to date since winning the $40 million U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City challenge (see our June 21, 2016 blog post): 93 electric cars to replace aging city fleet vehicles, Columbus Business First reports. Last fall, Columbus City Council approved “a $2 million lease-to-own deal” for the cars, with $1.7 million from a city income tax fund for fleet vehicles and $273,000 from “the $10 million grant from Vulcan Inc. toward reducing fossil fuel consumption” that was awarded to the city for winning the challenge. The city and Smart Columbus committed to “replacing 200 fleet vehicles with electric or partial-electric models, which are projected to cut fuel and other operating costs in half,” according to the article. Columbus will also install charging stations to be used exclusively by the city’s electric vehicles. For more, read the full article

Smart Cities, State Updates

Ohio State Energy Partners focused on carbon neutrality by 2050

Serdar Tufekci, CEO of Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP), said his company is focused on long-term sustainability goals, and won’t compromise those goals for greater profit, The Lantern reports. The public-private partnership with The Ohio State University (OSU) has various sustainability goals, such as cutting emissions by 25 percent over the course of the next decade and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. OSEP plans to decrease OSU’s reliance on its current energy grid, which is owned by American Electric Power and draws energy from coal, natural gas and renewable power generation. OSEP plans to employ a microgrid to gain “more control over what sources of energy are being used” and invest in clean energy, including rooftop solar panels, on campus. Tufekci said OSEP is focused on a long-term vision, and that the company doesn’t “come up with projects that don’t solve the 2050 target,” even if the financial return would be “fantastic.” For more, read the full article

Environmental, Renewable Energy

Rev1 Ventures reaches $1.4B total economic impact in Central Ohio

Columbus venture capital firm Rev1 Ventures is drawing in revenue and new capital to Central Ohio by the millions, reaching a cumulative economic impact of $1.4 billion since 2013, Columbus Business First reports. Rev1 “invested in a record number of startups in 2017 and its portfolio companies brought a combined $201 million” in revenue and new capital last year, according to the article. The nonprofit firm invests in early-stage technology companies and “mentors entrepreneurs, rents them office space and hooks them up with discounted business services.” Rev1 is also the regional manager of Ohio Third Frontier funds, and has started launching privately financed venture funds. In 2013, under new CEO Tom Walker, Rev1 set a goal of $2 billion in economic impact by the end of 2018; COO Kristy Campbell said the company feels “very good” about its progress toward that goal and “the growth of the 83 startups we’ve invested in and supported over the past five years.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, State Updates

AEP Ohio awards OU $250k to research solar’s economic benefits

AEP Ohio has awarded $250,000 in grants to Ohio University to conduct research on the economic benefits of renewable energy initiatives in southeastern Ohio, The Athens News reports. The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at the university, which has a long-established relationship with AEP Ohio and the AEP Foundation, will conduct the research project. The study will focus on three main areas: “economic and workforce impacts of currently planned solar installations in Ohio, approaches to additional utility and non-utility solar deployment, and the grid reliability benefits of increasing solar energy penetration,” according to the article. The team will also look at the potential results of “future policy and program changes.” Gilbert Michaud, principal investigator on the project, said, “the increase in tax revenues and job creation associated with increased solar deployment will help create a more stable economy for the region.” For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, State Updates
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