Ohio Energy Battles Continue in Statehouse and Regulatory Fronts

The availability of low cost, reliable energy is critical to economic success.  Energy Lead Economic Development capitalizes on existing regional natural energy resources and creates wealth through long term sustainable development strategies.  Energy is a heavily regulated industry at the state and federal level.  Ohio deregulated the retail delivery of its electric and natural gas services in most urban markets but continues to regulate the distribution of power, and the federal government regulates the production of energy.  States like Ohio have been struggling as it approaches it teenage years in the era of energy deregulation for electricity and natural gas.  That struggled has found its way in the Ohio General Assembly as both the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committees work to address a number of energy legislative priorities during the second half of the 132nd Ohio General Assembly, including:

  • HB 114 would render the state’s alternative energy standards voluntary and would lower cumulative energy efficiency standards from 22% to 17% by 2027 and is opposed by the renewable energy industry and this bill has passed the House but is pending in the Senate;
  • HB 143 which would clarify an existing exemption for the kilowatt-hour tax would modify the definition of an electric distribution utility to exclude self-generators or an agent who both contracts with a self-generator and installs, owns or operates a facility producing electricity dedicated to meeting some or all needs of a self-generator to the benefit of companies, One Energy, a company operating turbines for Whirlpool Corporation supports the bill but it has opposition from Ohio’s rural cooperatives, and this bill is pending still in the House;
  • HB 247 driven by the manufacturing industry requires refunds to utility customers who have been improperly charged, to eliminate electric security plans and require all electric standard service offers to be delivered through market-rate offers, and to strengthen corporate separation requirements and this bill is pending in the House;
  • HB 239 supported by American Electric Power and others requires recovery of costs associated with an electric distribution utility’s (EDU’s) “contractual commitments” related to the Ohio Valley Electric Cooperative, permits the EDU to recover the costs in its market rate offer (MRO) or electric security plan (ESP) under the competitive retail electric service law, and this bill is pending in the House;
  • HB 381 supported by First Energy and opposed by heavy energy users such as the oil industry is designed to address the substantial costs associated with its nuclear power plants and this bill is pending in the House.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is keeping the energy policy debate front and center not just through their cases and rulings but by hosting a PowerForward conference to provide a review of the latest in technological and regulatory innovation that could serve to enhance the consumer electricity experience. Registration is free and those interested in attending can sign up at https://www.puco.ohio.gov/industry-information/industry-topics/powerforward/.

Legislation progress on any of these matters is unknown but all players in the energy industry will have a busy 2018 leading up to an even busier 2019.