U.S. led record year for corporate clean energy PPAs in 2018

New findings from BloombergNEF (BNEF) show “corporations globally bought a record amount of clean energy through power purchase agreements (PPAs) in 2018, shattering the previous record set in 2017,” nawindpower.com reports. BNEF’s “1H 2019 Corporate Energy Market Outlook” showed 121 corporations in 21 countries signed a combined 13.4 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy contracts, compared to 6.1 GW in 2017. “More than 60% of the global activity in 2018 occurred in the U.S., where companies signed PPAs to purchase 8.5 GW of clean energy, representing nearly triple the amount signed in 2017,” the article reports. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

Cincinnati Council members propose changes to tax abatement criteria

Three members of Cincinnati City Council are asking for more information on how the city grants tax incentives and whether the city should add requirements for affordable housing and environmental standards to those tax incentives, CityBeat reports. Council members Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman and Wendell Young introduced a motion in an effort to “both continue to incentivize development in Cincinnati while making sure people who live in the city’s neighborhoods benefit from it and aren’t displaced by changes coming to various communities” including rapidly developing Over-the-Rhine and others. Some specific changes to the city’s abatement policy “could include requiring LEED Gold or Platinum certification” as opposed to the currently required Silver, “and requiring residential developments seeking abatements to provide some units affordable to those with lower income levels.” For more, read the full article

Economic Development, Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Financial Incentives

Central Ohio’s air-quality improvements lead Ohio EPA to seek federal redesignation of status

Improvements in central Ohio’s air quality in recent years are leading the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to seek federal redesignation of the area to “attainment status for meeting National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. Record levels of precipitation helped central Ohio achieve “mostly good air-quality days” in 2018, according to an annual report published by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC). The Ohio EPA “told MORPC that preliminary data for 2016–2018 shows central Ohio’s air pollution concentrations are at 69 parts per billion — just below the current federal limit of 70 ppb,” according to the article. Central Ohio had three days that “exceeded federal ozone limits for sensitive groups during the 2018 season,” and had zero days of unhealthy particle pollution days for sensitive groups. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, State Updates

Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grants new tools to municipalities

Local governments have “new statutory tools to affordably confront the expensive infrastructure challenges of stormwater, wastewater and other water resource improvement goals,” since the President signed the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA), McMahon DeGulis LLP reports. The WIIA adds a new section to the Clean Water Act incorporating US EPA’s 2012 Integrated Planning Framework into law. Additionally, it “allows a local government to incorporate its Integrated Plan into NPDES permits,” usually a more flexible route than being subjected to a federal consent decree. The WIIA also requires local affordability to be considered in developing CWA compliance schedules. These changes make Integrated Plans “an essential tool for local governments to manage their Clean Water Act compliance and infrastructure renewal.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Federal Updates

Laketran becomes member of Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance

Public transit agency Laketran has joined the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance, a group “seeking a public policy solution that will allow the Perry Nuclear Power Plant to avoid its decommissioning (see our November 14, 2018 blog post),” The News-Herald reports. Laketran CEO Ben Capelle said, “[e]lectricity is the future energy source for all ground transportation, including buses,” noting that the federal government “is prioritizing electric bus infrastructure to reduce emissions and lower the cost of providing transit service,” according to the article. Fueling buses with nuclear-based power “allows the entire energy pipeline to be emissions-free.” Laketran, the “first transit system in the state to deploy zero-emissions electric vehicles,” plans to electrify its entire Local Route system. For more, read the full article

Environmental, Renewable Energy, State Updates

UC Clermont College now 100% powered by wind energy

A three-year energy agreement with American Electric Power means the University of Cincinnati Clermont College is “now 100 percent wind-powered,” according to an article on the school’s website. The agreement, which began in October 2018, “covers energy provided for UC Clermont College, UC Blue Ash and the university’s satellite sites,” the article reports. The move “will save the equivalent in CO2 emissions of 3,683 homes’ electricity use for one year,” and is projected to save the college approximately $25,000 annually. For more, read the full article

Environmental, Renewable Energy, State Updates

AEP’s planned Highland County solar farms a welcome boost for southern Ohio

Development, business and construction leaders across Appalachia rallied in support at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO)’s first public hearing on AEP’s plan to build two solar farms in Highland County, Columbus Business First reports. The 300-megawatt (MW) Highland Solar Farm, if completed, would be the largest in Ohio. AEP says constructing that farm and the 100-MW Willowbrook Solar Farm “would bring $24 million in new state tax revenue and $6.7 million in local tax revenue,” while construction “would support 4,000 jobs, including 113 permanent manufacturing jobs in the solar supply chain,” according to the article. The Columbus Dispatch reports “witnesses from economic-development and environmental groups . . . testified about the need for jobs in a region of the state that has been struggling economically, and the value of moving away from fossil fuels to renewable sources.” For more, read the full Columbus Business First and Columbus Dispatch articles. 

Economic Development, Environmental, Renewable Energy, State Updates

GreenGen to upgrade energy efficiency at three Ohio GSA facilities

An Energy Savings Performance Contract awarded to Green Generation (GreenGen) will help three Ohio General Services Administration (GSA) facilities reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. GreenGen was “awarded a Task Order to design and install energy efficiency upgrades” including interior/exterior LED lighting and RTU and split system equipment replacement at the facilities, according to the article. The $1,059,000 contract “will be financed over a 12-year term,” and will “guarantee minimum first year savings of $83,623 and provide for $1.37 million in energy and cost savings for the US government during the contract term while improving the environment.”

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, State Updates

Funding approved for new railyard facility in Hannibal

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown announced $20 million in funding for the construction of a new railyard and pipeline facility in the town of Hannibal, Ohio on December 6, according to The Daily Jeff. The rail transloading project is expected to increase the area's energy exports and connectivity to global markets. For more, read the full story.

Economic Development, Environmental

Sirna and Sons solar installation generates 35% of company’s electric usage

Ravenna-based Sirna and Sons Produce has installed 1,331 solar panels on the roof of their Route 88 facility, enough to generate 35% of the electricity needed to power the 115,000 square feet of warehouse and office space, the Record-Courier reports. Tom Sirna, president of the fourth-generation wholesale food distributor, said the 30-percent federal tax credit lowered the payback period of the project from 10 to 12 years to 6 years. Without that, Sirna said, “the company probably wouldn’t have gone solar,” according to the article. The 452.5-kilowatt system “should cut carbon emissions by 650 tons every year,” which not only increases the company’s marketability, but aligns with Sirna’s goals to be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Financial Incentives, Renewable Energy, State Updates
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