AUSenergy News Update 08/12/2014
Aug 12, 2014

In today’s AUSenergy News Update: Ohio utilities pushing for less deregulation, California’s poorest county wants state to require more geothermal energy, CPUC settlement opens door for demand response.

Ohio utilities pushing for less deregulation

Summary: Three of Ohio’s largest utilities are asking state regulators to guarantee profits on a select number of power plants that might otherwise be decommissioned. The power companies are claiming this would lead to more stable prices and help retain the jobs and electricity from the plants that might otherwise close.
AUS Comment: Ohio has recently passed SB 310 into law, which effectively placed a freeze on renewable energy and rolled back its energy efficiency mandates. In April, 2014, Governor John Kasich appointed Thomas Johnson as Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission chairman. Just before the swearing-in ceremony, Governor Kasich said, speaking to the audience, “The ideological effort to deregulate, I’m not so sure it’s the smartest thing we’ve done in the state of Ohio.” Even so, the Ohio Manufacturers Association has reported in 2011 that nearly 1.8 million customers in Ohio have already switched from their local electric utility to another supplier, saving millions of dollars on their electric bills.

California’s poorest county wants state to require more geothermal energy

Summary: Imperial County in California is asking the state to require that electric utilities buy up to 500 megawatts of energy from geothermal power plants by 2024. The purchases could spur investments that could inject as much as $3 billion into the Imperial County economy over the next 30 years, creating thousands of jobs, and helping reduce the county’s 22% unemployment rate. The bill, SB 1139, authored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) is being supported by labor groups such as electricians and pipe fitters. However, the bill is opposed by the state’s business lobbies, investor-owned utilities and consumer advocates. Developers of wind, solar, biomass and even rival geothermal operators in Northern California claim the proposal would end up costing ratepayers $8 billion over 20 years and undercut California’s 3-year-old renewable energy law.
AUS Comment: AUS hopes the bill may be amended in a way that allows for California to take more advantage of its untapped geothermal energy resources without stranding other renewable assets.

CPUC settlement opens door for demand response

Summary: A settlement filed with the California Public Utilities Commission could open the door for demand response by recognizing the increased value of DR as a viable way to reduce emissions, meet energy demands, and enhance grid stability by relieving grid congestion.
AUS Comment: As part of the settlement agreement, a working group will be established to study the potential to integrate DR with electric vehicles, solar and other distributed energy sources. CPUC will decide on the settlement agreement in December, 2014.

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