Champaign County wind farm project granted extension

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) recently granted an extension to “two phases of a proposed wind farm in Champaign County,” giving the developers until May 2019 to begin construction, the Journal-News reports. The OPSB sided with the developer, Everpower Wind Holdings, “who argued the extensions were needed because years of litigation by opponents had delayed the project,” according to the article. The board’s decision extends the certificate for two proposed phases of the project, Buckeye Wind and Champaign Wind, which would install about 50 wind turbines across sections of the county. The OPSB ruled against a group of residents opposed to the project, stating they had “long ago missed a deadline to have a say in the process and instead relied on a separate group of opponents,” Union Neighbors United (UNU), to protect their interests. UNU reached a settlement with the developers last year. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, State Updates

Ohio House bill takes another swing at renewable energy mandates

A revised version of Ohio House Bill 114 (HB 114) would require utilities to “find more of their power from renewable sources like solar and wind,” but lower the mandated amounts from the original standards created in 2008, The Toledo Blade reports. HB 114’s new final mandate calls for 8.5 percent renewable power by 2022 instead of 12.5 percent by 2027, while also requiring utilities to “reduce electricity use by 17.2 percent, down from 22.2 percent, by 2027.” Additionally, the bill proposes changing wind turbine setback requirements to 1,125 feet from the nearest habitable residence for wind farms generating at least 5 megawatts of power. Current regulations require a setback of 1,125 feet from the nearest property line. For more, read the full article

Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, State Updates

City of Dayton agrees to loan $10M for Dayton Arcade revival

The Dayton City Commission has agreed to loan up to $10 million to the Dayton Arcade LLC to complete the funding for a project that will become “another major downtown destination,” the Dayton Daily News reports. The revitalization of the nine-building complex “would have the same kind of dramatic and far-reaching impact as the opening of Fifth Third Field in 2000 and the Schuster performing arts center three years later,” Dayton officials and local economic developers leaders said in the article. The arcade will create jobs, increase the tax base for the city, draw new investment, and provide “affordable housing for young creative types and professionals and high-demand urban amenities, including restaurants and other retail.” The loan is one of the city’s largest economic development investments “since the construction of the Schuster Center and the ballpark where the Dayton Dragons play.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Project Finance, State Updates

Power plant projects investing more than $4.6B in Mahoning Valley

Investment numbers for several new energy plants in the Mahoning Valley are “unlike any the region has witnessed in decades,” totaling more than $4.6 billion, The Business Journal reports. The abundance of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales “has emerged as the fulcrum” for the future of the energy industry, according to the article. Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future LLC, said, “[w]hat’s happening in the industry right now is equivalent to the automobile replacing the horse and buggy,” as aging coal-fired and nuclear plants’ higher operating costs make it harder for them to compete with natural gas and combined-cycled plants. Clean Energy Future developed the Lordstown Energy Center and is working on a second Lordstown plant, both valued at about $890 million (see our October 13, 2017 blog post). Advanced Power “plans to invest $1.1 billion” in its South Field Energy plant in Columbiana County. Across Ohio, “11 new combined-cycle electrical generation plants worth an estimated $10.5 billion are either recently completed, under construction or in the planning or permit stages.” For more, read the full article

Economic Development, State Updates

Amazon plans fourth central Ohio fulfillment center, adding 1,500 jobs

Online retail giant Amazon is planning another expansion of its presence in central Ohio with a fourth fulfillment center, this one in West Jefferson, Columbus Business First reports. The state-of-the-art, 855,000-square-foot sorting facility will create an additional 1,500 full-time jobs, according to the article. Kenny McDonald, president and CEO of Columbus 2020, said in a statement, “Amazon is quickly becoming one of the Columbus region’s largest and most important employers.” Amazon’s vice president of North America Customer Fulfillment, Mark Stewart, said the company’s growth in Ohio is “the result of an outstanding workforce and incredible customers.” For more, read the full article.  

Economic Development, State Updates

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

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

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

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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