Posts Authored by Dylan F. Borchers

Startup hopes to spur economic growth in Appalachia through recycling battery cells

What happens when one lithium-ion cell in a battery pack goes bad? Even though the battery pack may contain “anywhere from a few to hundreds of lithium-ion cells,” when one of those cells goes bad, “typically the whole battery pack is discarded,” says Roger Wilkins, executive director of the startup Re-POWER Second Life Battery Network of the Athens Energy Institute, The Highland County Press reports. The organization has a plan to recycle lithium-ion battery cells for reuse in other applications; testing and repackaging of the still-good battery cells from electric vehicles and other electronic devices “would take place at a central facility in Appalachia” and then be distributed as a subscription service, according to the article. If the project succeeds, it “could promote job growth in the clean energy sector while supporting a network of local businesses.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Environmental, State Updates

Toledo Solar wins $1.7M federal grant for new solar technology development

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office awarded a $1.7 million grant to Toledo Solar to support its development of semitransparent cadmium telluride photovoltaics, “a solar-cell material that could be suitable for use in windows, building facades, and rooftop solar modules,” The Toledo Blade reports. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) recently announced the grant. In her statement, Kaptur said the new solar technology “offers potential for boosting solar production within the United States,” according to the article. The majority of silicon-based solar panels, “the predominant current technology for large-scale uses,” is produced in Asia. For more, read the full article.  

Renewable Energy, Solar, State Updates

AEP signs PPA for planned 200-MW Pickaway County solar project

A planned 600,000 solar panel project that will generate 200 megawatts (MW) of output in Pickaway County when complete has a signed long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) from AEP Energy Partners, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, MarketWatch reports. Atlanta Farms Solar Project will contribute renewable energy to the City of Columbus’s aggregation program that was approved on the November 2020 ballot, according to the article. Greg Hall, AEP Energy president, said, “AEP Energy is focused on providing customers with integrated, carbon-free energy supplies that deliver long-term price stability and environmental benefits.” For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Solar, State Updates

US corporate demand will drive up to 72 GW in new renewable projects over next 10 years

Corporate-driven power purchase agreements (PPAs) “could represent 20% of all utility scale renewable power additions” in the United States from 2021 to 2030, according to a recent IHS Markit report, Utility Dive reports. The report concludes corporate-driven PPAs “could drive development of 4.4 GW to 7.2 GW annually,” according to the article. More than 200 companies in the U.S. are procuring renewable energy or plan to do so, and “about 40% of these companies have targets that escalate through the early to mid-2020s.” For more, read the full article.

Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

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, Solar

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, Solar, 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, Solar, 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
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