Renewables Are Lowering Price of Electricity For All in Ohio

Contrary to “conventional wisdom” renewable energy is causing downward price pressure on Ohio wholesale markets


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has recently released a report that concludes that the addition of large scale renewable energy is having the effect of causing price suppression. For people who pay electric bills price suppression is a good thing.

Since renewable are a no-cost addition to the grid, once installed, they are called upon first to deliver electricity. This lowers the overall wholesale rate of electricity delivered into Ohio.

From the report:

Price suppression is a widely recognized phenomenon by which renewable resources produce lower wholesale market clearing prices. The economic theory that drives price suppression is
actually quite simple. Renewable resources such as solar and wind are essentially zero marginal cost generators, as their “fuel” costs (sunlight and wind) are free. As such, they will always be dispatched first by the grid operator, thereby displacing units with higher operating costs. This
results in lower wholesale market clearing prices than would have been experienced in the absence of the renewable resources.
— Public Utilities Commision of Ohio

The report goes on to say that there are no issues with grid integration of these technologies in Ohio.

No severe congestion issues or emergency curtailments were observed, even after incorporating all approved projects, which suggests that the electric grid in Ohio is sufficiently robust to support the continued development of utility-scale renewable projects.

— Public Utilities Commision of Ohio

The other compelling thing about this report is that the PUCO is not a biased party.

TPRE CEO Eric Zimmer Touts Clean Energy Jobs at Energy Conference

Tipping Point CEO Eric Zimmer spoke at the Northern Ohio Energy Management Conference on September 26th on behalf of the Advanced Energy Economy Ohio and Tipping Point. In his comments, Zimmer defended the state requirement that electric utilities secure a small amount of their electricity from renewable energy.

 Like most discussions on energy in Ohio over the past year, the focus of the meeting was on the future of shale gas resources that have been under intensive  development in Ohio.    Among all the hoopla over shale gas, the conference did  consider a number of issues related to electricity prices in a panel on which Zimmer participated.

According to the article by the Cleveland Plain Dealer,

Eric Zimmer, with the Advanced Energy Economy, a group advocating both renewable and advanced energy technologies, said new competitive suppliers coming into the state are looking to bundle renewable energy with other, more traditional sources of power.
Zimmer argued that energy efficiency is still the cheapest energy option "that can only make us stronger." And energy efficiency mandates create jobs, he said.
"Secondly, right now there are 25,000 jobs in the Ohio economy involved with energy efficiency," he argued.  Cleveland Plain Dealer

For more information on Ohio's advanced energy requirements or to learn more about saving money and controlling energy expenses with renewable energy, contact Tipping Point.

AEP's Electric Security Plan Approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

The Pubilic Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved a modified version of AEP Ohio's Electric Security Plan (ESP) on August 8, 2012.  The revised plan establishes generation rates through May 31, 2015 and sets AEP on a path toward a separating it's generation business from distribution and transmission.Shutterstock 42410560

“We are confident that this modified ESP will result in the outcome the General Assembly intended under both Senate Bill 3 and Senate Bill 221, and best represents a balance in the interests of both consumers and AEP-Ohio,” said PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler. “Today’s order leads us towards more robust competition in the state of Ohio in less than three years. It also provides mechanisms for consumer protection, and maintains that AEP-Ohio continues to provide adequate, safe, and reliable service to its customers.” (PUCO Press Release)

In response to the PUCO decision, AEP filed revised tariff sheets (the official documents that detail rates charged to customers) on August 16, 2012.  In filing the 382 page document, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer Pablo Vegas said, "“We have worked hard to minimize bill impacts on customers as we transition to a competitive market model. Customers will benefit during this transition by having fixed generation rates and a greater ability to shop for a competitive price on their power generation service, and by having AEP Ohio take part in energy supply auctions.”  (AEP Press Release)

The decision will have broad implications for ratepayers in AEP Ohio's service territory.  Virtually all classes or ratepayers will see some increase in rates -- some more than others.  In addition, changes in incentives for shopping retail generation services and rate structures may mean that a change in energy acquisition and/or management practices could minimize the financial impact this decision could have on AEP customers.

Tipping Point Energy is currently analyzing the new plan and is prepared to work with AEP Ohio customers to understand their new tariff structures and opportunities to effectively manage their energy expenses.

TechColumbus Names Tipping Point as Semi-Finalist for 2011 Innovation Award

Tipping Point Renewable Energy is proud to be named as a semi-finalist for the TechColumbus 2011 Innovation Award in the category of Green Innovation.  

According to the TechColumbus website:

The TechColumbus Innovation Awards celebrate and honor individuals and teams in a variety of disciplines. Each award category is an important component of the technology and innovation community. Receiving the top honor in an award category showcases the dramatic impact of the awardee’s contributions in Central Ohio and beyond. (Link)

The Green Innovation award is for a company that has EITHER: Developed a Green product or service that is commercially available and in production, and is in use with at least one customer/client; OR Applied or implemented a technology or process change that has a net positive impact on the environment.

The final award winners will be announced at the Innovation Awards dinner on February 2, 2012 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center - Battelle Grand Ballroom.  More information on the awards dinner is available at the Innovation Awards' website.

Energy Information Administration Studies The Impact of Clean Energy Standards (CES)

The Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released an analysis of the economic and other impacts that would result from the enactment of a number of different Clean Energy Standards. The analysis was done at the request of U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee. There are a number of interesting findings that arise from the study, including the dramatic impacts that enactment of a Clean Energy Standard (CES) would have on emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants compared to the relatively modest impact on electric prices and the economy. Specifically, Chairman Bingaman requested an analysis that compared a Clean Energy Standard that he is expected to offer next year (called the Bingaman Clean Energy Standard or BCES) with the Base Case from the EIA's 2011 Annual Energy Outlook. A number of alternative cases based on policy ideas that have been previously considered in Washington were also analyzed. As expected, the analysis finds a significant impact on the mix of technologies used to generate power:
The BCES policy changes the generation mix, reducing the role of coal technologies and increasing reliance on natural gas, non-hydro renewable and nuclear technologies. Coal-fired generation, which in the Reference case increases by 23 percent from 2009 to 2035, decreases by 41 percent in the BCES case over the same period. Relative to the Reference case, where natural gas generation grows steadily throughout the projection period, natural gas generation in 2025 is 34-percent higher and 53-percent higher in 2035. Under the BCES policy, non-hydro renewable technologies grow at the fastest rate, increasing from 146 billion kilowatthours in 2009 to 601 billion kilowatthours in 2025 and 737 billion kilowatthours in 2035. These totals are 60 percent and 75 percent greater than the 2025 and 2035 Reference case projections, respectively.
Also as expected the impacts of annual electricity sector carbon emissions are dramatic.
Under the BCES, projected annual electricity sector carbon dioxide emissions are 22 percent below the Reference case level in 2025 and 43 percent lower in 2035 (Figure 3, Tables B1 and B2). In the Reference case electricity-sector carbon dioxide emissions increase modestly over the projection period, reaching annual emissions of 2,345 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) in 2025 and growing further to 2,500 MMTCO2 emitted in 2035. Over the 2009-to-2035 period, cumulative CO2 emissions are 20 percent lower in the BCES case than they are in the Reference case.
Finally, the report also found that in the early years, the impacts of the BCES on electricity prices is negligible, but grows as the standards ratchet down.
The BCES has a negligible impact on electricity prices through 2022, but prices rise in later years. In the early years of the projection period, there is negligible impact on average end-use electricity prices, as the requirement to hold BCES credits is modest. As shown in Table 1, the share of total sales that must be covered by credits does not exceed 45 percent until after 2030. This is important because, while coal-fired plants do not receive BCES credits, efficient combined cycle plants receive 0.48 credits for each megawatthour they generate, more than retailers purchasing their output are required to hold until after 2030. This effectively reduces the cost of most natural gas-fired generation until the later years of the projections. Electricity prices do grow later in the projections, reaching 21 percent above the Reference case level by 2035 in the BCES case.
The report can be found here.

Solar By Soldiers (SM) Garners Attention

Tipping Point was pleased to have a recent story by the Associated Press about our Solar by Soldiers (SM) program picked up by a number of news outlets throughout the country.

The article, written by Andy Greenfield, was picked up by a number of major news outlets including Fox News, the Huffington Post and many local and metro news organizations.

The article discusses a number of programs for getting US service veterans to work in the clean energy industry, but focuses on former Marine Ben Noland's experience looking for a job after returning from two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Noland, one of Tipping Point's hires, left the Marines in 2009, in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

He started looking for supply and logistics management jobs, something he had experience with from running supply convoys to troops on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. When nothing turned up, he looked futilely for warehouse jobs in Columbus. Finally, he briefly took a minimum-wage job at McDonald's 30 minutes away from his house.

"I'm a military veteran. Two tours of Iraq, one of Afghanistan — I was thinking, 'Man, I've got to be able to hang my hat on that,' you'd think." Noland said. "I was completely discouraged." Link to AP News

Ben is currently a Project Manager with Tipping Point.

MIT Scientists Discuss Potential for Solar Energy

A friend who is an MIT Alum forwarded me this from the MIT News about some of the research going on in solar energy at at the Institute.  It is good to see and hear about the different paths of research that some highly intelligent people are pursuing to make solar more efficient and cost competitive.

Lots of interesting tidbits in here.  I've heard it before, but it bears repeating that 173,000 terawatts (trillions of watts) of energy strikes the Earth continuously -- more than 10,000 times what we currently use.  The challenge is harnessing and moving that power when we need it.

Since solar energy is, at least in theory, sufficient to meet all of humanity’s energy needs, the question becomes: “How big is the engineering challenge to get all our energy from solar?” Taylor says. 

Solar thermal systems covering 10 percent of the world’s deserts — about 1.5 percent of the planet’s total land area — could generate about 15 terawatts of energy, given a total efficiency of 2 percent. This amount is roughly equal to the projected growth in worldwide energy demand over the next half-century. 

Read the whole article here.

Tipping Point CEO Zimmer Expresses Support for Ohio Renewable Energy Standards

On September 20 and 21, 2011, Ohio Governor John Kasich hosted an energy summit to discuss the importance of energy in Ohio.  Among the many subjects covered was one near and dear to our hearts, the state's Clean Energy Standard, which requires a certain percentage of electricity in the state to come from clean energy sources, including solar energy.

As the Governor and his cabinet consider the many policy recommendations that were presented at the summit, Tipping Point would like to bring to your attention this article, which appeared on National Public Radio affiliates around the state. In the article, our CEO Eric Zimmer, expresses why we believe the CES is important for Ohio jobs and the economy:

CEO Eric Zimmer says erasing the mandates now would be a job killer. “What we need is stability. And so, bills that are thrown out willy-nilly like this that question that really put a freeze on that market. We have had challenges with our investors who we’ve been working on for close to a year now saying, ‘what’s with this bill?’ If Senate Bill 221, the renewable portion was repealed, it would absolutely kill jobs in Ohio. It would drive away a lot of jobs.”

Click here for the whole article (including a link to listen to the story).