Energy storage, mobile chargers will “tackle grid challenges” from EV adoption

Although electric vehicle (EV) sales are likely to remain flat this year due to COVID-19’s impact on the economy, the strong long-term outlook for EV sales will create challenges for the electric grid, Utility Dive reports. Newer vehicles will increase stress on the grid “due to their larger batteries and capacity for faster charging,” according to the article. Rhombus Energy Solutions CEO Rick Sander said “[i]ntegrating energy storage with vehicle-to-grid capable chargers and smart [energy management system] solutions” will be one effective mitigation strategy. Consulting firm Guidehouse said mobile chargers deployed by a van or other mobile units will provide a flexible approach to meet demand. Mobile and temporary EV charging “will grow from 0.5% to 2% of the charging market by 2030,” according to Guidehouse. For more, read the full article.

Miscellaneous

CARES Act “filled with options” to help small businesses, MAGNET says

The Cleveland-based Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) is working with several groups to help manufacturers navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, CantonRep.com reports. Their efforts include studying the CARES Act recently passed by Congress “to find the changes that can benefit small businesses,” according to the article. MAGNET says the CARES Act “is filled with options to assist small business owners,” including “a loan of up to 2.5 times a company’s average monthly payroll,” deferment of the 6.2% Social Security tax for 2020 until the end of 2022, and options “for expanding and paying for unemployment.” For more, read the full article.

Federal Updates, Miscellaneous

Bell announced as board member for relaunched PACENation initiative

Caleb Bell, PACE attorney and chair of the firm’s Public Finance practice, was announced as one of nine board members for PACENation, a recently relaunched nonprofit organization that advocates for expanded access to property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing. The elected board is made up of distinguished clean energy finance and policy leaders from around the country.

As part of its relaunch, PACENation publicized that it is now an independent, membership-funded nonprofit organization that will provide public officials, other stakeholders and its members with resources and educational materials related to PACE financing. Some specific initiatives include a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, a webinar series for state and local officials, and industry insights and market data. The organization – as well as its newly-elected board members – will continue its mission of helping property owners improve the efficiency and resiliency of their homes and businesses with PACE.

Economic Development, Miscellaneous, Project Finance

AEP Ohio installing 96,000 smart meters in Canton area

AEP Ohio is replacing more than 96,000 analog electric meters in the Canton area with “smart meters,” which provide real-time meter readings, eliminate estimated bills and alert AEP of power outages more quickly, CantonRep.com reports. AEP spokesperson Jessica Wright said the smart meters provide “secure transfer of a customer’s usage information for billing and operational purposes” and eliminate the need for utility workers to visit customers’ properties to read the meter, according to the article. AEP “joined the Green Button initiative, an industry and federal government effort to make energy use information more accessible to customers.” For more, read the full article

Miscellaneous, State Updates

Court dismisses class action against Cleveland Public Power

The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas dismissed a class action lawsuit against Cleveland Public Power (CPP), holding that certain utility charges totaling more than $188 million were not unlawful. The crux of the lawsuit was Environmental and Ecological Adjustment (EEA) charges that CCP charged customers in addition to base rates. Unlike base rates, EEA charges do not need approval from city council. The EEA charges were collected by CPP from 1984 into 2013. And although CPP stopped assessing these fees in 2013, it began charging customers again in 2017. The plaintiffs claimed that CPP was not allowed to charge the EEA charges under the terms of CPP’s electric service contract with its customers, because these charges did not relate to compliance with environmental laws or regulations.             

To examine the plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim, the court analyzed the City of Cleveland’s ordinances, which incorporate the terms of the electric service contract. After analyzing the ordinances establishing the EEA, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments. The court found that the language of the ordinances (and, thus, the electric service contract) did not limit the scope of EEA charges to costs related to environmental laws or regulations.                                                        

The court’s decision is likely to be appealed, but it closes the first chapter in a contentious legal battle regarding CPP’s utility charges. The decision is also noteworthy due to the court’s in-depth analysis of the applicable standard of review for Ohio courts that are asked to consider the lawfulness of municipal utilities’ rates.

For more, read the full decision.

Energy Efficiency, Miscellaneous, State Updates