Posts Authored by Dylan F. Borchers

Ohio EPA virtual public hearing on amended rules for power plant efficiency

On Friday, October 16, 2020, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a virtual public hearing about proposed changes to rules that address power plant efficiency, according to a news release. During the hearing, “the public may submit written comments on the record about the proposed amendments to the rules,” according to the release. The proposed new rules “are being developed to comply with U.S. EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule,” which mandates “the development of enforceable performance standards based on the application of technologies and methods” determined to be the Best System of Emission Reduction (BSER) for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Citizens who want to participate in the meeting must register in advance. For more, read the full release.

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, State Updates

FERC ruling reverses 40 years of PURPA precedent in defining small solar

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently issued an order that reverses “40 years of precedent under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA)” determining how a small power producer is defined, Utility Dive reports. In the ruling, FERC “denied qualifying facility (QF) status to a facility in Montana with a net capacity of 80 MW of solar power . . . asserting that because its gross capacity is 160 MW, it does not meet the legal threshold for a QF,” according to the article. That facility, Broadview, updated its filing in 2019 “to reflect the addition of panels that allow it to have 160 MW of gross capacity”; the developer “argues that because its 160 MW solar, 50 MW battery facility connects directly to direct-current-to-alternating-current inverters, the maximum net capacity of the facility is still 80 MW.” For more, read the full article.

Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

Ohio could benefit from more utility-scale solar projects, trade group says

The recently formed Utility Scale Solar Energy Coalition (USSEC) “sees great potential for Ohio to build many more utility-scale solar energy projects” that could bring economic growth, jobs and diversification to the state, The Toledo Blade reports. The organization issued a report saying “it sees a market for 54,113 one-time construction jobs and 618 annual operations and maintenance jobs” from such projects, defined as generating 50 megawatts (MW) or greater, according to the article. Jason Rafeld, USSEC executive director, said, “Ohio is undergoing a major energy transition,” with nine coal-fired power plants closing in the past decade and the cost of solar decreasing 70 percent during that same period, while corporations “are demanding more utility-scale solar energy.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Renewable Energy, State Updates

Toledo Solar awarded $200K DOE research grant

Perrysburg-based Toledo Solar recently won a $200,000 Phase I U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, The Toledo Blade reports. The grant will fund “extended testing of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules with glass-enameled steel backs instead of the existing glass sheet used to encapsulate the panel,” according to the article. The design, if successful, “will make the panels lighter and rooftop installations quicker,” lowering prices for installers and individual customers. If the panels are commercially viable, “they will help Toledo Solar to compete with Chinese-made silicon panels that do not work as well in hot climates” such as the American Southwest. For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, State Updates

Legislators ask OPSB to reconsider ruling that restricts Icebreaker Wind turbine operations

A group of 32 Northeast Ohio lawmakers, including state senators and representatives from both parties, is urging state regulators to reconsider a ruling that “would doom the construction of Icebreaker Wind,” a six-turbine, 20-megawatt (MW) offshore wind farm, Cleveland.com reports. The legislators wrote a letter to Ohio Power Siting Board Chair Sam Randazzo saying that while the board “technically approved” the project, “it unlawfully inserted a ‘poison pill’ provision” barring the blades from moving at night between March 1 and November 1 to limit risks to birds and bats, according to the article. Icebreaker is projected to generate 500 new jobs and $250 million for the local economy. For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, State Updates

Ohio Supreme Court to decide whether state EPA can enforce federal act in Rover Pipeline case

The Ohio Supreme Court will decide whether the Ohio Environmental Protection Ageny (EPA) lost jurisdiction to enforce the federal Clean Water Act to hold Rover Pipeline LLC accountable for dumping “millions of gallons of mud mixed with diesel fuel in pristine wetlands in 2017,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. Rover “argues that the state failed to act within one year of Rover’s application for specific certifications” under the act, therefore waiving the requirements, according to the article. A brief filed by the Ohio Attorney General’s office argues the act “does not say that states, if they fail to timely issue a water-quality certification, forfeit their power to enforce all state environmental laws that the permittee later violates.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, State Updates

DriveOhio outlines statewide strategy for EV charging

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT)’s DriveOhio initiative “has finalized a study to expand electric vehicles (EV) access” throughout the state, identifying “key steps” needed to expand Ohio’s EV impact, Knox Pages reports. A key recommendation is to install EV charging stations “at least every 50 miles at strategic locations along interstate, state and US route corridors,” according to the article. In coordination with this study, the Ohio EPA is accepting applications for $3.5 million in grants to fund publicly accessible chargers in 26 counties (see our July 27, 2020 blog post); another $5 million in grants for Direct Current Fast chargers will be released in early 2021. Jack Marchbanks, Director of ODOT, said by working toward EV-friendly corridors, “Ohio will continue leading the way in the changing landscape of transportation.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Project Finance, State Updates

$1B Gemini Solar Project will be largest solar project in U.S. history

The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a proposal to construct and operate a 690-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar energy facility about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, greenlodgingnews.com reports. The estimated $1 billion Gemini Solar Project “could be the eighth-largest solar power facility in the world when finished and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 260,000 homes in the Las Vegas area and potential energy markets in Southern California,” according to the article. Project construction “is anticipated to average 500 to 700 construction workers” at a time, “supporting up to an additional 1,100 jobs in the local community and injecting an estimated $712.5 million into the economy in wages and total output during construction.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

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

Columbus’s energy benchmarking ordinance is the first in Ohio

Officials in Columbus “are getting ready to help building owners comply with the state’s first energy benchmarking ordinance,” which will require those owners “to report data on building size, energy usage and utility bills,” energynews.us reports. An EPA energy manager program will use that data to provide “Energy Star scores for energy and water usage,” according to the article. Stefan Schaffer, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s city strategist for the American Cities Climate Challenge, said the building sector “accounts for the majority of carbon emissions in Columbus,” at 58%. Cities that have adopted benchmarking policies have reported a 3% to 8% reduction in annual carbon emissions two to four years after implementation. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, State Updates
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