Ohio's new clean energy ballot initiative sparks concern among utilities
- A clean energy ballot initiative in Ohio seeks voters' approval to greenlight $14.3 billion in bonds to be issued over 11 years to fund renewable energy projects, energy storage options and other energy infrastucture.
- Ohio's Attorney General Mike DeWine approved the intiative's language, recognizing it had garnered the minimum required 1,000 signatures necessary to land a spot on the ballot. The initiative proposes an amendment to the Ohio Constitution.
- The bonds would be controlled by the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission, an Ohio-based organization that's incorporated as a limited liability corporation in Delaware, SNL Energy reports.
- Ohio's utilities are skeptical of the proposed amendment, saying they have concerns over a private, out-of-state company controlling the bonds, and that the backers of the ballot initiative have not been publicly disclosed.
The amendment seeks to open the door to more renewable infrastructure, but Ohio's major utilities, including FirstEnergy Corp. and American Electric Power, are doubtful over having a private company controlling the funds and what they claim as opaque disclosure of the amendment's backers.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the amendment's backers "are described only as grass-roots activists" and "financial supporters have not been identified."
"We've always been concerned about the premise of the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative because it would be controlled by a private company out of the state of Delaware, and there has been little disclosure of who is backing the proposed amendment," AEP spokeswoman Tammy Ridout told SNL in an email.
Both utilities are heavily reliant on fossel fuels and are currently seeking approval for power purchase agreements to guarantee income for some of their aging coal and nuclear fleet.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is also suspicious of having an out-of-state organization controlling the funds, noting that the proposal has appeared on the ballot several times already in a post last year.
"The Clean Energy Amendment calls for OHIO money to be shipped to a company registered in DELAWARE and not only pays the company $715 million for their services, but grants them sole authority over how to spend $13 billion of public funds over the next decade on Ohio projects they deem worthy," the Chamber of Commerce wrote.
The ballot initiative calls for $1.3 billion in funds to be issued in the first fiscal year if approved, and for an additional ten years thereafter. The ballot notes that energy infrastructure improvement shall "include but not be limited to solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, battery technology, energy conservation, energy efficiency, smart grid [and] distributed generation facilities."
- SNL Energy Ohio utilities skeptical of renewable energy ballot initiative
- The Columbus Distpatch DeWine OKs language for Ohio amendments on ethics, ‘green’ energy
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