by Danny Cross
A federal appeals court yesterday reinstated an antitrust lawsuit against Duke
Energy. The lawsuit accuses Duke of paying kickbacks to local companies in order to gain
support for a 2004 electric rate increase. The lawsuit alleges that
Duke appeased the more powerful opposing companies by including rebate
deals for them. The suit is seeking unspecified damages and seeks to
represent all Ohioans affected by the rate increase.
Todd Portune is continuing his quest to
become the East Side's county's property tax rebate savior, yesterday offering a new idea
to bail out the stadium fund: extend the half cent sales tax past
2032. The revenue created by extending the sales tax, which has no
sunset clause, would repay loans the county could use to pay for
maintenance and projects at the stadiums now. Republican Commissioner
Chris Monzel is open to “any ideas,” though Democratic
Commissioner Greg Hartmann says otherwise:
“Todd, here we go again,” snapped Commissioner Greg Hartmann.
“Walking away from these leases is just fantasyland.
“How many times are we going to do this?” he asked.
Rob Portman will test out his GOP
rallying cries at the Faith & Freedom Coalition in Washington,
D.C. next week.
Bill Clinton says a Mitt Romney
presidency would be “calamitous” for the U.S.
The Senate will vote on a gender pay
equity bill today.
China and Russia say they'll help the
UN more going forward, though they've been supporting Syria more than
anyone really wants them to.
Here's an explanation of the Transit of
Venus, for those who don't get it yet.
Nintendo has revamped its Wii to try to
lure gamers from free Internet games they play on iPads.
A new PC virus can infect computers by
imitating a Windows update.
by Hannah McCartney
at 01:32 PM | Permalink
Decision makes Cincinnati first major U.S. city to offer 100 percent green electricity
spending several weeks reviewing requests for proposals (RFPs) from seven energy
providers as part of Cincinnati’s initiative to power homes using energy
aggregation, a decision has been made — and it’s a green one. Cincinnati
has selected First Energy Solutions (FES) as the city’s new electricity
provider, which will make it the first major city in the U.S. to use a 100
percent “green” electricity supply.
aggregation process works like this: All eligible individual customers “pool”
their buying power to form a larger unit, which holds more leverage to
negotiate lower prices on electricity. Cincinnati voters passed a ballot in November 2011 to approve the city's efforts to choose an energy aggregation provider. The designation of FES's energy supply as "green" energy doesn't mean that residents will see windmills and solar panels popping up across the city's landscape; rather, the energy will be designated "green" based on non-tangible renewable energy credits (RECs), which each represent proof that one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity has been sourced from a "renewable" energy resource. FES will provide the city with enough RECs to power all interested consumers' homes, meaning no home opted-in to the aggregation power will use electricity sourced from non-renewable resources such as coal. The city's possession of those RECs will represent the commitment to sourcing electricity in residents' homes from renewable, green resources. Some of the RECs provided to the city by FES will reportedly be sourced from local energy sources, including the University of Cincinnati's generating facility and the Cincinnati Zoo's Solar Canopy Project, although those sources will be a small component of the overall REC collection, according to Larry Falkin, Director for the Office of Environmental Quality. “Not
only will we be able to put real money back in people’s pockets, but
this establishes the city as a leader in supporting green energy
choices,” said Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who spearheaded the push to provide consumers with an energy aggregation option nearly two years ago. Over the
next several weeks, Cincinnati will work to negotiate a contact with FES, and
residents will receive information about FES’s services.
Residents who aren't interested in participating in the city's green aggregation efforts will be required to opt-out before the services are implemented. FES will notify all eligible customers and those who don't want to participate must reply to be opted out. There will be no cost to enroll in the FES program.According
to the city’s press release, FES will save the average household about $133
each year on electricity bills. The switch could become effective by June.
by Kevin Osborne
Cincinnati's streetcar project manager told City Council Monday that top level officials from the city and Duke Energy are continuing negotiations on who should pay for the relocation of underground utilities for the project. Chris Eilerman, an assistant to the city manager, called the discussions “fruitful.” City officials say some of the cost should fall to Duke as some of the pipes and wiring are old and will need to be eventually replaced regardless of the streetcar project. A CityBeat review of streetcar projects in other cities found that utility companies often paid the entire cost for relocation.About 55 percent of hospitals think they will experience a drop in revenue because of federal health-care reform, according to a new survey. Twelve percent anticipate an increase in revenue and 28 percent don’t know what to expect, according to research by Woburn, a Massachusetts-based benefits consulting firm. The Business Courier reports that Greater Cincinnati hospitals are taking steps to make the best of the reform including forming tight networks with physicians and other providers in order to pursue quality-improvement initiatives the government is promoting.Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig told City Council that some violent crime is the result of lack of parental involvement in their children's lives. At a special council session Monday evening to discuss a recent spike in shootings, Craig said each homicide costs a community millions of dollars in various expenses, so it's in everyone's best interests to try to reduce the crimes.Ohio's tax-credit program for film production has helped create work for thousands of people, and sparked millions of dollars in economic impact, according to a new study. The report, compiled by the Center for Economic Development at Cleveland State University, estimates that each dollar of state tax breaks results in $1.20 in economic impact. The tax credits have cost the state some $30 million so far, the study reports. The film industry has created more than 9,000 temporary jobs and more than 1,100 full-time jobs in the Buckeye State since 2009.ESPN will shoot a TV commercial promoting its popular College GameDay football show at a campus selected by fans based on online voting. Every college with a Division I football team is eligible to compete for the honor, and the University of Cincinnati is encouraging its fans to participate. Voting in the contest began Monday, and can be done here.In news elsewhere, Republican presidential primaries are being held today in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. A total of 228 delegates are at stake, although frontrunner and presumptive nominee Willard Mitt Romney is expected to easily win the primaries. Of the five states, only Pennsylvania is considered as a swing state that could go either way in November's general election.Facebook's stunning growth might be starting to cool a little. The social media company reported its first quarter-to-quarter revenue decline in at least two years as it prepares to go public in the largest ever Internet IPO. Net income slid 12 percent to $205 million in the quarter, from $233 million a year earlier, which executives blamed on seasonal advertising trends. Facebook is preparing to raise at least $5 billion in an initial public offering that could value the world's largest social network at up to $100 billion.A nonpartisan group that advocates for open government has filed an IRS complaint against a secretive conservative group, alleging it is falsely claiming tax-exempt status while doing widespread lobbying. Common Cause filed the complaint Monday against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has pushed for voter ID and “stand your ground” laws, among many other efforts. "It tells the IRS in its tax returns that it does no lobbying, yet it exists to pass profit-driven legislation in statehouses all over the country that benefits its corporate members," said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. The group wants an audit of ALEC's work, penalties and the payment of back taxes.The net flow of Mexicans into the United States has dwindled to a trickle and may now be in reverse, according to a survey by the Pew Hispanic Center. From 2005-10, about 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the U.S., exactly the same number of Mexican immigrants and their US-born children who quit America and moved back or were deported to Mexico. By contrast, in the previous five years, about 3million Mexicans came to the U.S. and fewer than 700,000 left it. Poor economic conditions and an increase in border patrols are being credited with the reversal.Israel has approved three settlements in the occupied West Bank, the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said in a statement. At a meeting late on Monday, a ministerial committee "decided to formalize the status of three communities which were established in the 1990s following the decisions of past governments," the statement said. The formal approval was criticized by Palestinians, who said it's another impediment to peace talks about contested land.
by Kevin Osborne
Duke Energy lost its appeal Thursday that sought to get more money from its customers to reimburse the firm for damages it sustained to equipment in the September 2008 windstorm. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) involving the restoration of electrical service after the storm that was caused by Hurricane Ike. In January 2011, PUCO ruled to allow Duke to recover about $14.1 million of the $30 million it had requested. With revenues of $14.53 billion for 2011, we're confident Duke can absorb the loss. Besides, isn't that the sort of thing that qualifies as “the cost of doing business?” Buck up, James Rogers.The Reds emerged victorious Thursday in its season opener against the Marlins, winning 4-0. Reds Manager Dusty Baker credited pitcher Aroldis Chapman's performance for helping put the team over the top. It was the team's first Opening Day shut-out since 1980. Players might have been buoyed on by the 42,956 people watching them play – the second-largest attendance at Great American Ball Park, surpassed only by a playoff loss to Philadelphia in 2010.As might be surmised from the above figures, the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade before the game also had one of its largest crowds ever. Organizers credited the turnout to sunny weather, a later start time and optimism about the Reds' prospects this season.Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig is asking Avondale residents to help patrol the neighborhood as part of efforts to stop an uptick in shootings there. At least five people were shot Sunday night a few blocks from the Avondale Pride Center, police said. Officers have increased their presence in the neighborhood, but residents said they know the solution must involve a network of community members working with police.A series of meetings will be held this month to give the public a chance to offer input on various plans for updating or replacing the Brent Spence Bridge across the Ohio River. The first meeting will be held at 6 p.m. April 11 at Covington City Hall, with later sessions planned for April 24 at Longworth Hall and April 25 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.In news elsewhere, the U.S. economy added a relatively weak 120,000 jobs in March, compared with 240,000 in February, but the unemployment rate dipped to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent, the Labor Department reported today. Analysts had forecast a 205,000 gain in non-farm payrolls, according to a Bloomberg survey.Some critics are alleging the Republican National Committee was actively helping Mitt Romney win the GOP's presidential nomination, instead of serving as an impartial arbiter of the process. The list of grievances ranges from “issues the party acknowledges are legitimate, to those that they dismiss as desperate fixations from Romney’s flailing rivals,” Politico reports. The committee agrees that some states that went for Romney jumped the line in the primary schedule, a violation of party rules. But it shrugs off other complaints, like that it undermined rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich by formatting a delegate tracking list to pad Romney’s tally.An Iraqi defector whose lies helped spark the United States' decision to invade Iraq, starting a nine-year war that cost more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, confessed to making up his tale to get U.S. leaders to act. In his first British TV interview this week, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi – known as “Curveball' in intelligence circles – admitted that he knew Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, as he had alleged.A Florida woman was arrested after allegedly offering to have sex in exchange for two hamburgers off of McDonald's dollar menu. Christine Baker, 47, was walking on a Southwest Florida street last Friday when she was approached by a detective working in the Manatee County Sheriff Office’s special investigations division, according to a sheriff’s office report. After the undercover detective invited Baker into his car and the talk turned to sex, she said her fee would be two double cheeseburgers.A British infant that essentially was born without any blood is being hailed by doctors as a miracle baby by her doctors for surviving her ordeal. Olivia Norton, who is now six months old, was born completely white because she had such a low count of hemoglobin – the chemical which carries oxygen in red blood cells – that it could not officially be classified as “blood.” She was nicknamed "ghost baby" and given less than two hours to live, but survived thanks to emergency transfusions.
City, Duke Energy spar over streetcar construction technicality
3 Comments · Tuesday, March 6, 2012
If you listen to many native
Cincinnatians, they will tell you their hometown is different from other
cities. Special. Unique even. What works everywhere else doesn’t always
work in the Queen City, and vice-versa. Whether the provincial attitude is due to
a sense of pride or a neurotic inferiority complex, its accuracy
ultimately is a matter of personal opinion.
by Kevin Osborne
Ohio law has exception for wire-powered vehicles
A review of the fine print in Ohio law could spell trouble for
Duke Energy in its dispute with Cincinnati about who must pay to move utility
lines to accommodate the city’s streetcar project.
Readers of CityBeat’s
March 6 cover story know that one of the legal arguments made by Duke Energy is
that it said the system qualifies as a utility itself under Ohio law. And one
utility has no legal obligation to reimburse another utility, Duke added.
City officials disagree with Duke’s interpretation, and the two
sides currently are trying to negotiate a compromise to the impasse.
The city is willing to pay $6 million to relocate Duke’s natural gas, chilled water, fiber and electrical
infrastructure along the streetcar route, but the firm insists it will cost at
least $18.7 million and possibly more.
A close reading of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC), however, reveals
it is unlikely that a streetcar system qualifies as a “public utility.”
Under Ohio law, the following items are defined as public
“A motor transportation company, when engaged in the
business of carrying and transporting persons or property or the business of
providing or furnishing such transportation service, for hire, in or by motor-propelled
vehicles of any kind, including trailers, for the public in general,
over any public street, road, or highway in this state.” ORC §4905.03
But motor-propelled vehicles aren’t defined under Ohio law. The
ORC does, however, define “motor vehicle” as:
“(B) “Motor vehicle” means any vehicle, including mobile homes and recreational vehicles, that is propelled or drawn by power other
than muscular power or power collected from overhead electric trolley wires.
“Motor vehicle” does not include utility vehicles as defined in division (VV)
of this section, motorized bicycles, road rollers, traction engines, power
shovels, power cranes, and other equipment used in construction work and not
designed for or employed in general highway transportation, well-drilling
machinery, ditch-digging machinery, farm machinery, and trailers that are
designed and used exclusively to transport a boat between a place of storage
and a marina, or in and around a marina, when drawn or towed on a public road
or highway for a distance of no more than ten miles and at a speed of
twenty-five miles per hour or less.” ORC
Streetcars operate using overhead trolley wires, thus they aren’t considered
motor vehicles under Ohio law. But do they even qualify as vehicles? The ORC
defines vehicles as:
“(A) “Vehicles” means everything on wheels or runners,
including motorized bicycles, but does
not mean electric personal assistive mobility devices, vehicles that are operated exclusively on
rails or tracks or from overhead electric trolley wires, and vehicles
that belong to any police department, municipal fire department, or volunteer
fire department, or that are used by such a department in the discharge of its
functions.” ORC §4501.01(A)
Of course, streetcars run on rails and use power from electric
trolley wires. So, they aren’t vehicles either.
The conclusion: Either “motor-propelled vehicles” mean the same as “motor
vehicles” (in which case it doesn’t apply to streetcars) or “motor-propelled”
is an adjective to “vehicle” (which also doesn’t apply, as streetcars aren’t
In each instance, a streetcar system doesn’t fall into the legal realm of a “motor transportation company” and therefore isn’t a “public utility.”
by Kevin Osborne
Since it's an election year, it must be about time for pandering by lawmakers seeking to keep their offices. Cue U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood), who is proposing a bill in response to fears about an influx of publicly subsidized housing for the poor into suburban areas. Chabot wants to impose time limits and work requirements on most people who get Section 8 federal housing vouchers. If approved, the bill would impose a five-year time limit on Section 8 recipients and require those 18 and older to work for at least 20 hours each week. Even if the measure passes the House, it's unlikely to pass the Senate and be signed by President Obama, leaving us to wonder what Chabot's true motive is. Any guesses?Believe it or not, Cincinnati is Ohio's wealthiest city, sort of, according to a Business Courier study of U.S. Census data. A total of 3.7 percent of households in the Cincinnati-Middletown metropolitan area have income of $200,000 or more. The No. 2 metro area in the state was Columbus, with 3.63 percent of its households earning that much. Of course, the rankings involve entire regions, not just the city itself, and Greater Cincinnati includes such affluent enclaves like Indian Hill, Mason and West Chester Township. (Suck on it, Bexley.)Crews from Duke Energy are investigating what caused an explosion and fire under a downtown street on Tuesday. The blast happened under the intersection of Fourth and Main streets at about 9 a.m., and both streets were blocked for much of the day. No one was injured in the mishap.Brad Wenstrup, a podiatrist from Columbia Tusculum who scored an upset victory Tuesday in the GOP primary against U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township), is crediting grassroots organization for his unlikely win. Wenstrup and his surrogates actively campaigned in all corners of the sprawling 2nd Congressional District, which was recently redrawn through redistricting. Although Wenstrup portrayed himself as a moderate when he sought his first political office, in the Cincinnati's mayor race in 2009, his latest campaign positioned him as a darling of the Tea Party movement.The American Red Cross has established a hotline for Clermont County residents to call if they have an immediate need for housing as a result of last Friday's tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. The number is 513-579-3024.Despite rumors to the contrary, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) said he won't move to Washington state to run for one of the three open congressional seats there. The longtime progressive congressman lost in Tuesday's Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur. The two lawmakers recently were redistricted into the same area. Kucinich told reporters Wednesday he will stay on and represent his Cleveland district through the end of his term in January 2013. He would have to resign his current seat if he were to move to Washington state to establish residency for a campaign there.In news elsewhere, U.S. intelligence officials are monitoring the transfer of millions of dollars to foreign accounts by wealthy Syrians who have ties to President Bashar al-Assad. The officials are trying to determine whether the transfers mean Assad's regime is weakening or if the elites are merely hedging their bets. Assad is under increasing international pressure due to his violent crackdown on anti-government protestors during the past year.Meanwhile, a Syrian deputy oil minister says he is resigning to join the revolt against the government. Abdo Hussameddin, 58, announced his defection in a video posted on YouTube.The Obama administration is being criticized for how it treats whistleblowers who reveal instances of misconduct in the public and private sectors. In recent years, the White House has set a record by accusing six government employees, who allegedly leaked classified information to reporters, of violating the Espionage Act, a law dating to 1917. Also, it is alleged to have ignored workers who have risked their careers to expose wrongdoing in the corporate and financial arena, even though there are laws available to protect them.The House is expected to vote today on a jobs bill that would mark rare agreement between the Obama administration and House Republicans, CNN reports. The proposal is comprised of six measures aimed at removing barriers to small business investment.
by Jac Kern
Posted In: Events
at 01:43 PM | Permalink
Tips for a Successful Beerfest
There are plenty of beer festivals year-round in Cincinnati, but Cincy Winter Beerfest is the queen mother of them all. Duke Energy Convention Center downtown transforms into a beer haven this weekend, offering more than 300 craft brews.
by Hannah McCartney
Duke Energy's approval and cooperation was considered to be essential in advancing the highly anticipated Cincinnati streetcar project, and Wednesday the company announced it isn't willing to cooperate. In a letter to Mayor Mark Mallory dated Feb. 8, Ohio and Kentucky Duke Energy President Julie Janson stated that Duke changed its mind after a year and a half of negotiations and that it wouldn't cooperate with the city's requests that Duke move utility lines downtown to make way for the streetcar's tracks. According to Janson's letter, the lines must be moved a minimum of eight feet from the edge of the streetcar before any progress can be made in the plan's implementation. Duke estimates that the relocation and replacement of the infrastructure would cost somewhere around $18.7 million, but City Manager Milton Dohoney said that estimate hadn't been verified by anyone else.
0 Comments · Tuesday, January 24, 2012
police chief, James Craig, who began his job in August, already is making some
welcome and long overdue changes. Ten supervisors and 40 officers are
being transferred from the department’s numerous specialized units and
put on street patrol.