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

Bricker partners with Ohio advancement groups to host economic development trainings

Attorneys within Bricker & Eckler's economic development practice have partnered with APEG, JobsOhio and OEDA to design and host EDNow!, an upcoming economic development training program. EDNow! empowers elected and appointed community leaders, especially those within Southern and Eastern Ohio, to guide their local communities’ futures with cutting-edge economic development strategies. Buckeye Hills Regional Council, OVRDC and OMEGA have also assisted with this initiative.

The program will be offered in various Ohio locations on September 26 and October 10. For more information, including the schedule, location details and ticket information, visit the EDNow! event page.

Economic Development, Miscellaneous, Project Finance

AEP funding OSU research on cyber-resilient power grids

Columbus-based American Electric Power has provided a $250,000 grant for Ohio State University (OSU) to research cyber-resilient power grids, Columbus Business First reports. OSU’s Electric Power Grid Research Group will conduct the research into making “electric power distribution networks safer from cyber attacks,” according to the article. Julie Sloat, president and COO of AEP Ohio, said in a statement, “[i]ncreased connectivity creates new entry points for potential attackers and poses new challenges for grid security, so we are thrilled we are able to provide this funding.” David Williams, dean of the OSU College of Engineering, said in the statement, “[e]lectric power generation and distribution are areas of great interest to all of us, not just now, but into the future. . . . The security of our electric power system goes right to the heart of our civilization.” For more, read the full article.

Miscellaneous

Couple ties the knot at One Energy wind campus in Findlay, Ohio

On June 2, 2018, One Energy technical manager Erin Kashawlic and her soon-to-be husband held their marriage ceremony at the One Energy North Findlay Wind Campus that she helped develop and construct. According to North American Wind Power, the wedding offered turbine tours and yard games for guests, as well as oversized pinwheel decorations. Kashawlic and groom Chris Roekle chose the site so their guests could see their home city and wind energy from a different angle. “Erin and Chris exchanging vows just a couple hundred feet from the spinning turbines, surrounded by family and friends, was a perfect backdrop to a beautiful day,” said Angela DeBoskey, head of storytelling for One Energy.

Miscellaneous, Renewable Energy