Ohio lawmaker says AEP plant subsidy settlement ignores legislature's will on renewables
- Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R) is critical of the renewable energy requirements of a settlement that will guarantee income at several American Electric Power (AEP) coal facilities in the state, saying the measure will saddle consumers with higher costs, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
- Seitz, who chairs the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee, believes the requirement that AEP develop 900 MW of wind and solar energy is not in line with lawmakers' decision last year to eliminate renewable mandates for utilities.
- The settlement, filed last week, has broad support including the Sierra Club and calls for eight-year power purchase agreements to support 2,671 MW of generation the utility says is essential for reliability, but at risk for retirement.
- The deal would see the utility either retire or convert 1,503 MW of coal generation to natural gas, while developing 500 MW of wind and 400 MW of solar energy projects over the next five years.
Last year, Ohio regulators voted to eliminate the state's renewables and efficiency mandates, including a requirement that half of utilities' green energy must come from in-state projects. And according to Sen. Seitz, AEP's settlement, filed last week, runs contrary to the spirit of that decision.
The Columbus Dispatch reports Seitz issued a statement saying the settlement is “a direct thumbing of the nose to a legislative decision, and things will not go well for the [Public Utilities Commission of Ohio] if they continue to defy the will of the General Assembly."
And according to Columbus Business First, Seitz is opposing the solar generation because it would harm prospects for small-scale rooftop installations. The deal is "an affront to distributed generation and competition," he said.
AEP's power purchase agreements would end in May 2024, a shorter term than originally requested. The deal covers 2,671 MW from nine AEP generating units — Unit 1 at the Cardinal coal plant, Units 4-6 at the Conesville plant, Units 1-4 at the Stuart plant and Unit 1 at Zimmer. The PPAs would also cover the utility's 423 MW contractual share of Ohio Valley Electric Corp. generation.
In exchange, the utility would convert Units 5 and 6 at its Conesville plant to co-fire natural gas by the end of 2017 and retire or repower those units to use only natural gas by the end of 2029 and 2030, respectively. That retirement or repowering deal would also apply to Unit 1 at Cardinal.
In addition to developing 900 MW of renewables, AEP said it would continue its support of energy efficiency programs, move forward with grid modernization efforts and and provide up to $100 million in customer credits. AEP said the proposed plan is expected to save consumers some $721 million over the life of the agreement.
- The Columbus Dispatch AEP's renewable-energy plan snubs will of legislature, state senator says
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