CLEVELAND TO PASS RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO AHEAD OF STATE OF OHIO
By Robert A. Olson, Esq. and
Maria Reinemann, Esq. --
Brown, Olson and Gould, P.C.
The City of Cleveland, Ohio may soon develop its own advanced renewable portfolio standard ahead of the State of Ohio. City Council members have cited the State’s delay in implementing a renewable standard and legislative revisions to key provisions in the state’s energy bill currently pending in the State House of Representatives, as reasons for the City’s action.
The state’s energy bill, S.B. 221, was introduced at the end of September, 2007. An amended bill passed the Senate on October 31, 2007 and the House is set to debate the bill well into the new year.
The bill focuses on two main subject areas, electricity prices and electricity sources. A key provision is an Advanced Renewable Portfolio Standard (“ARPS”) which requires the state’s electric utilities to secure at least 25% of their power from advanced energy by 2025 with at least 12.5% of the advanced energy generated from sustainable resources. Advanced energy includes energy produced from renewable sources as well as from new high technology coal plants and the latest federally approved nuclear reactor designs.
Unlike most other renewable energy standards already implemented across the country, S.B. 221 lacks any specific benchmarks for compliance, simply requiring that renewable energy must constitute at least 12.5% of a utility’s total electricity sales by 2025. As it is now written, the bill allows utilities to avoid the 25% ARPS if the cost of the advanced energy is greater than 3% of the cost of non-advanced energy. The bill also precludes the state’s Public Utilities Commission from enforcing these standards until 2025.
City officials have voiced concern that the amendments to S.B. 221 will weaken the state’s commitment to incorporate more renewables in utility energy portfolios. The City Council and Mayor oppose the 3% cap because they expect that energy from advanced sources will be 3% or more expensive than energy from fossil fuel sources in most cases. The City Council is recommending at least a 10% to 15% cap rather than a 3% cap.
The City Council is expected to consider and enact its own ARPS shortly. A preliminary proposal calls for the City to meet a 15% standard by 2012, rising to 25% by 2025. The City’s proposal defines advanced energy to include wind, solar, clean waste-to -energy technology, renewable fuels, landfill gas, fuel cells, and low-impact hydro.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has stated that he plans to introduce legislation to the City Council in early 2008 that would require Cleveland Public Power to produce and/or purchase a minimum of 25% of its power needs from advanced and renewable energy sources by 2025.