by German Lopez
Ohio could weaken energy rules, city wins green award, Obamacare beats projections
CityBeat is participating in a City Council candidate forum on Oct. 5. Have any questions you would like to ask candidates? Submit them here.Ohio legislators appear ready to weaken environmental and energy regulations
after months of lobbying by Akron, Ohio-based utility company
FirstEnergy. The utility company argues the regulations, particularly
energy efficiency standards that require customers use less electricity,
cost businesses and customers too much money. But environmental groups
and other supporters of the rules say FirstEnergy is just looking out for its own
self-interests while putting up a front of caring about others. A
study by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy
coalition found eliminating the energy efficiency standards
would cost Ohioans $3.65 billion more on electricity bills over the
next 12 years. State Sen. Bill Seitz, who’s spearheading the
regulation-weakening efforts, formally introduced his bill yesterday, and business groups say it’s a backdoor way to eliminate energy efficiency standards and the in-state renewable business by weakening them so much.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati on Tuesday announced it won a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award
from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of local
efforts to draw down dirty energy production and replace it with clean
sources. The Cincinnati area currently produces nearly 408 million
kilowatt-hours through green energy sources, which is enough to cancel
out nearly 60,000 cars’ emissions and meet 14 percent of the community’s
purchased electricity use, according to city officials. To commemorate
the award, Mayor Mark Mallory unveiled a Green Power Community sign at
the Cincinnati Zoo, which installed solar panels on its parking lot in
2011 and became one of the region’s leading clean energy producers.
Raw health insurance premiums for Obamacare’s online marketplaces will be 16 percent lower than previously projected,
according to the latest estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional
Budget Office released less than one week before marketplaces open on
Oct. 1. In Ohio, the average family of four making $50,000 a year will
have to pay $282 a month after tax credits for the second cheapest
“silver” plan, or $486 less than the plan would cost without tax
credits. Under Obamacare, online marketplaces will allow consumers to
compare and purchase subsidized health insurance plans in the individual
market. The plans only apply to the individual market, which means the
majority of Americans, who are currently getting insurance through an
employer or public programs, will be under a different insurance system
and won’t qualify for the online marketplaces’ tax subsidies. CityBeat covered outreach efforts for the online marketplaces — and Republican attempts to obstruct them — in further detail here.
Commentary: “Let Them Eat Nothing?”
The Charter Committee, Cincinnati’s unofficial third
party, yesterday endorsed Roxanne Qualls for mayor. The endorsement
comes as little surprise to most election-watchers, considering the
Charter Committee has endorsed Qualls four times over the years.
The Cincinnati Enquirer is displeased
it couldn’t cover a private mayoral debate between Qualls and
ex-Councilman John Cranley because the group hosting the debate closed its doors
to the public.
Ohio Democrats yesterday made their endorsements for 2014: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald for governor, former
Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper for attorney general, State
Sen. Nina Turner for secretary of state, State Rep. Connie Pillich for
state treasurer and Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge John
O’Donnell for the Ohio Supreme Court.
This infographic released by an anti-privatization group shows the negative impact of private prisons. CityBeat covered Ohio’s own privately owned prison and the problems it’s faced, including rising violence, in further detail here.
A federal grand jury charged a North Canton man
for allegedly making illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Rep. Jim
Renacci and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel. Both candidates returned the
campaign contributions after they became public in stories published by
the Toledo Blade and The New Republic.
A 43-year-old Hamilton man allegedly used a poison-laced knife to stab his brother-in-law.
A supposedly sexist gorilla is getting kicked out of the Dallas Zoo after 18 years.
by German Lopez
Local green power cancels out emissions from nearly 60,000 cars
Cincinnati officials announced on Tuesday that the city
had won a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) because of local efforts to draw down dirty
energy production and replace it with clean sources.
The Cincinnati area currently produces nearly 408 million kilowatt-hours
through green energy sources, which is enough to cancel out nearly
60,000 cars’ emissions and meet 14 percent of the community’s purchased
electricity use, according to city officials.
“EPA is pleased to recognize the Cincinnati, Ohio
community with a Green Power Community of the Year award for its
leadership and citizen engagement in dramatically increasing its use of
green power,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement. “We
applaud Cincinnati’s residents, businesses and organizations for
choosing green power that will help address climate change and support a
clean energy future.”
To commemorate the award, Mayor Mark Mallory unveiled a
Green Power Community sign at the Cincinnati Zoo, which installed solar
panels on its parking lot in 2011 and became one of the region’s leading
clean energy producers.
The Cincinnati Zoo’s project is one of the many
developments that led advocacy group Environment Ohio to declare that
Cincinnati could become the solar capital of the region.
Cincinnati also adopted an aggregation program in 2012,
which supposedly allows residents and small businesses to get lower
electricity prices through 100 percent green power.
On June 14 and again on Sept. 1, the EPA ranked the Cincinnati area No. 6 in the nation
for locally purchased green power. The June ranking made Cincinnati the
first Green Power Community in Ohio and surrounding states.
The city administration says Cincinnati’s successes have
pushed other cities, including Cleveland and Chicago, to pursue their
own clean energy efforts.
In Ohio, state Republicans, led by State Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, appear ready to adopt looser environmental regulations after months of lobbying from Akron, Ohio-based utility company FirstEnergy.
Seitz is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is attempting to weaken energy and environmental regulations across the country.
A report from the Ohio State University and the Ohio
Advanced Energy Economy found Seitz’s proposal would cost Ohioans $3.65
billion on electricity bills over the next 12 years.
FirstEnergy wants looser environmental regulations, and state Republicans seem ready to oblige
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
FirstEnergy wants looser environmental regulations, and state Republicans seem ready to oblige.
by Hannah McCartney
FirstEnergy fined $43 million, worrisome child poverty rates in Hamilton County child poverty, Cleveland altweekly strikes a beer ransom
Ohio energy provider FirstEnergy, who last June won a bid to provide Cincinnati with “100 percent green” aggregated energy, was fined $43.3 million yesterday by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for grossly overcharging its customers for renewable energy credits, or RECs. The issue dealt with FirstEnergy’s overcharging of customers across Northern Ohio from 2009-2011, so new FirstEnergy customers in Cincinnati are unaffected. A Cincinnati spine doctor, Abubakar Atiq Durrani, accused of performing millions of dollars worth of unnecessary surgery on unsuspecting patients was indicted yesterday for five counts of health-care fraud and five counts of making false health-care claims. Staff members of the Cleveland Scene yesterday snatched up the Twitter handle @PlainDealer after the Cleveland daily accidentally forgot to claim/reclaim it along with @ThePlainDealer. The Scene earned a delivered case of Great Lakes’ Oktoberfest and a six-pack of PBR in ransom. Hamilton Country fares worse than Ohio overall when it comes to the economic well-being, health, education and safety of our children, according to a report released Aug. 7 by the Children's Defense Fund and Annie E. Casey Foundation. Although median income is higher in Hamilton County than the statewide median, our rates are worse in child povery, fourth-grade reading and math proficiency, felony convictions and the amount of babies with low birth weights, an early sign of bad health. If you don't have anything nice to say about living in North Korea, you will get stuck working in a coal mine. Last week popular stand-up comedian Lee Choon Hong was sentenced to an indefinite period of hard labor in a COAL MINE after she told a bad joke that "satirized" aspects of North Korean society. She was apparently yanked off statge in the middle of her performance and sent straight to the mine without the chance to say goodbye to her family. This week in news: The historic building that houses the Emery Theatre is threatened by controversy between the owners of the building, the two organizations that run it and the nonprofit group The Requiem Project, who was billed in 2008 to program the theatre and raise money for the its renovation. Last week the Requiem Project sued the University of Cincinnati, which owns the building, Emery Center Corporation and Emery Center Apartments Limited Partnership (ECALP), for violating a "letter of intent" and attempting to forcefully evict Requiem from the building, although its leaders, Tara Gordon and Tina Manchise, say they've never been told why they've been "backed into a corner."A public housing project in Paris is the subject of an experimental heating project through which the warmth generated by human bodies milling around a nearby Metro station will be used to heat the building. This intern for NextMovie.com fucking cited every single line of Mean Girls by heart in less than 30 minutes. Get More: NextMovie.com: More Videos | Trailers | Movie News | New on DVD & Blu-Ray
by Hannah McCartney
Company overpriced renewable energy credits purchased from affiliate company
On Wednesday the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio unanimously ruled that Akron, Ohio-based energy supplier FirstEnergy Corp. must credit its Ohio customers $43.3 million for overcharging for renewable energy credits (RECs) from 2009-2011 that it purchased from its affiliate, FirstEnergy Solutions. RECs are tradable, non-tangible energy credits that represent proof that one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity has been sourced from an eligible renewable energy resource. First Energy Solutions is an energy generator and supplier, while First Energy Corp. is an electricity distributor, which means that it sources its electricity from elsewhere, which requires them to issue bids seeking the most competitively priced energy from a supplier such as First Energy Solutions. According to the First Energy Corp. website, First Energy Solutions is the competitive subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. Both suppliers are based in Akron. An audit conducted by Exeter Associates Inc. revealed that FirstEnergy Corp. paid 15 times more than any other company in the country to purchase the RECs from FirstEnergy Solutions, and FirstEnergy Corp. passed that overcharge onto consumers. In a copy of the order issued yesterday by the PUC obtained by CityBeat, it states that, "The Companies contend that, given the nascent market, lack of market information available to the Companies, and uncertainty regarding future supply and prices, the Companies' decisions to purchase in-state RECs were reasonable and prudent." In summary, FirstEnergy contends that because it was scrambling to find a way to meet the state's Clean Energy Law requirements, it had to buy these RECs no matter the cost, and that there are no legal specifications within the Clean Energy Law that requires RECs be purchased or sold at market price; and that the costs issued to them, and subsequently, customers, weren't unreasonable. The Ohio Consumers Counsel, however, says that there were cheaper alternatives available and that FirstEnergy should have checked with the PUC prior to paying 15 times more for RECs than any other country had in the past. If they'd rejected the exorbitant bids, says OCC, and instead consulted with PUC and OCC, they could have come up with a solution to prevent from charging customers excessively high rates. In June 2012, FirstEnergy Solutions was the winning bidder in Cincinnati's energy aggregation program, which is supposed to allow us to receive lower "aggregate" rates for buying in bulk. At the time, FirstEnergy touted the merits of its "100 percent green" energy supply, sourced from wind, solar, biomass and other renewable resources. The bid was expected to save homeowners around $133 annually. What enabled FirstEnergy to provide the "clean" energy was its use of a system with non-tangible renewable energy credit (RECs) that each represent proof that one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity has been sources from a renewable energy resource. Purchasing the credits from its subsidiary allows FirstEnergy Corp. to meet the state's renewable energy standard, which requires that by 2025 all Ohio utility companies provide at least 25 percent of their energy from renewable resources. Because the lawsuit issued by the PUC examines only the amount paid for RECs during compliance periods between 2009 and 2011, Cincinnati customers who switched to FirstEnergy Solutions last June should not be affected, although the FirstEnergy arms' ambiguous behavior, says Dan Sawmiller, a Sierra Club member who manages Ohio's Beyond Coal campaign, is a likely indicator that the company may be engaging in other unethical practices related to consumer transparency. The company has not been devoid of controversy in the past. In March, CityBeat reported on state environmental groups' concerns with the movement to lower requirements for defining renewable energy and energy efficiency; FirstEnergy was part of the bloc working to weaken Ohio's Clean Energy Law in hopes of keeping corporation costs low. FirstEnergy was also chastised by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in 2009 for distributing and charging customers for energy-efficient light bulbs without receiving customers' authorization. Sawmiller commended the PUC for fining First Energy, although he suggests the fine is likely modest for the actual damages. He still expresses concern about the need for corporate separation between the two FirstEnergy arms. "The commission left much to be desired in terms of transparency, leaving customers in the dark about what types of renewables are being provided, where are they coming from and at what cost," says Sawmiller in Sierra Club's press release.
by Hannah McCartney
Four Ohio energy providers earn spot on Pear Energy's "Dirty Dozen"
Cincinnati's main gas and electricity provider, Duke Energy, has scored a No. 1 ranking, but it's not exactly one you'll be wanting to clap your hands about. Remember when we blogged a couple of weeks ago about how Greater Cincinnati has some of the worst air pollution in the nation? Yep, the American Lung Association's report, "State of the Air," gave us an "F" for ozone pollution, a "D" for 24-hour particle pollution and a "fail" for year-round particle pollution. That put us at the 10th worst spot in the country for year-round particle pollution and 14th worst for ozone pollution. Solar and wind energy provider Pear Energy, which currently operates in all 50 states, released yesterday its "Dirty Dozen" compilation, a list of the 12 utility providers emitting the greatest carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a type of greenhouse gas. CO2 emissions, of course, are the gunk released into our atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels like gas, coal or oil. Excess CO2 in our atmosphere is directly linked to global warming. Coming from a company that wants to sell you energy itself, it's good to approach the list with a little skepticism, but the methodology seems transparent; according to the website, all rankings were determined by total CO2 emissions in 2010 of power producers with retail operations that have carbon intensities above the national average emissions rate (stats were sourced from Environmental Protection Agency data). While Duke Energy was pinpointed as the nation's worst offender, several other Ohio energy providers also earned accolades, including American Electric Power (No. 2), NRG (No. 8) and First Energy (No. 11). First Energy is the utility provider that in 2012 partnered with Duke Energy locally to bring Cincinnati an electric aggregation program, allegedly useful for both lowering electricity rates and increasing use of renewable energy sources with group buying power. Last month, CityBeat covered allegations that First Energy was focused on weakening energy efficiency standards under Ohio's Clean Energy Law, supposedly to protect prices from shooting up for its customers.
Ohio considers relaxing energy efficiency standards; environmental groups take exception
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 27, 2013
State environmental groups and an
Akron-based energy company are at odds over a 2008 law that tasks the
state and utility companies with meeting stringent requirements for
renewable energy and energy efficiency.