AUSenergy News Update 04/14/2015
Apr 14, 2015

In today’s AUSenergy News Update: Chicago extends benchmarking deadline, More utilities seeking fixed fee hikes, FERC approves Integrys/We Energies merger, and Six natural gas plants to replace Ohio coal generators

Chicago Energy Benchmarking

Summary: The City of Chicago has extended the submission deadline for 2015 energy benchmarking. All completed benchmarking submissions received by August 1st, 2015 will be treated as in compliance with the ordinance this year. After 2015, June 1st will remain the ongoing annual deadline.

AUS Comment: Large residential buildings feeling the pressure of the looming deadline can breathe a sigh of relief. AUS had a feeling this was coming after the City failed to send out benchmarking notification letters in early March as was previously noted on their website. While this extension does buy some much needed extra time for difficult-to-benchmark mixed-use buildings, AUS is still on track to help its buildings comply with the original 6/1/2015 deadline.

PPL, Peco join list of utilities seeking big fixed fee hikes

Summary: Peco Energy and PPL Electric, the dominant Pennsylvania electricity providers, have joined the ranks of U.S. utilities asking for increased fixed bill charges to ratepayers to offset diminishing kilowatt-hour (kWh) sales.

AUS Comment: Once again, the utilities are refusing to change with the times. Instead of looking at how they can produce sufficient revenue and meet today’s energy needs, they are instead imposing their own form of a ‘tea tax’ on their customers. And the ones that suffer the most are low-income, seniors with fixed income, and those who invested in solar and other forms of renewable energy, looking to reduce their energy use, and in turn, lower their utility bills. By imposing an actual ‘penalty’ for lower energy use, there is then NO incentive to pursue ways to lower one’s energy usage, thus, negatively impacting future energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

FERC approves Integrys/We Energies merger

Summary: Integrys Energy and We Energies’ merger plan has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The $9.1 billion merger creates the combined company, WEC Energy Group, Inc. The new company will serve more than 4.3 million gas and electric customers across Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota, as well as operating nearly 71,000 miles of electric distribution lines and more than 44,000 miles of gas transmission and distribution lines.

AUS Comment: We can only hope that these combined utilities will mean new leadership and new ways of operating, including the use of distributed renewable energy resources, allowing for third-party ownership and not punishing customers with a special ‘fee’ for impacting utility revenue because they’ve managed to successfully lower their energy use through energy efficiencies, conscious behavior, renewable energy, or whatever.

Six natural gas plants under construction in Ohio to replace coal generators

Summary: Ohio has no less than a half dozen gas-fired proposals under consideration, at the same time new carbon regulations are about to take older coal-fired facilities offline. Ohio legislators are also looking at re-establishing the state’s energy efficiency measures. The state froze these measures through 2016, and is now rethinking that decision per indications that the move could be costing the state millions of dollars.

AUS Comment: Congratulations Ohio for finally waking up and realizing that energy efficiencies are a positive, meant to save money AND create revenue through new jobs and industries.

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