With Announcement, PUCO puts Ohio on a path to a clean energy future
Columbus — On Nov. 3, 2016, the Public Utility Commission of Ohio approved a multi-party stipulation involving American Electric Power and the Sierra Club. In this stipulation, AEP committed to developing the largest clean energy project in Ohio history and responsibly phasing out 1,500 MWs of coal plants in the state. The decision kick starts the progress toward one of the largest economic development projects in Ohio’s Appalachian region and begins a path forward for communities affected by retiring coal plants.
AEP’s clean energy commitment aims to bring at least 900 megawatts of clean energy projects online in Ohio over the next four years and will help make Ohio a leader in clean energy development. The projects include 400 megawatts of solar and 500 megawatts of wind, all to be sited in Ohio. The proposed settlement gives preference for the solar to be developed in Ohio’s Appalachian region, the area of the state most in need of well-paying energy jobs. One of the stated goals of AEP, Sierra Club, and other signatories to the approved stipulation, is to make Appalachian Ohio a solar manufacturing hub with the potential to employ hundreds of Ohioans in one of America’s fastest growing industries. The project will be competitively bid, and will require partnership with private industry to develop a large-scale solar facility with an emphasis on employing Ohio military veterans, and creating sustainable employment in Appalachian Ohio. In addition, AEP is committing $8 million annually to the state’s low-income home weatherization program.
The stipulation requires retirement for three coal-burning units at AEP’s Cardinal and Conesville plants. These coal units emitted approximately 8,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 11,000 tons of nitrogen oxide pollution annually in recent years. Ceasing coal burning at these units will avoid such harmful air pollution, and represents a significant portion of the carbon pollution reductions that Ohio needs to meet the modest EPA Clean Power Plan goals.
“We’re pleased to see that AEP will be moving forward, in partnership with private industry, to develop a significant amount of clean energy for Ohio,” said Dan Sawmiller, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “This stipulation was difficult to put together, and we’re happy to see that PUCO is showing its support for a clean-energy plan that moves Ohio forward.”
AEP also announced in a shareholder meeting that it was taking an asset impairment charge, writing down $2.3B in book value on four jointly-owned coal plants in Ohio, a decision the Company made to help alleviate the financial strain posed by coal plants that are struggling to compete against more competitive and cleaner sources. As part of the announcement, AEP outlined plans for significant capital investments in new clean renewable energy.
Governor John Kasich has reaffirmed his position to not allow the State legislature to completely kill Ohio’s currently frozen clean energy standards.
Sawmiller continued, “There has been considerable uncertainty in terms of energy in Ohio for the past several years. PUCO’s approval today shows they are willing to support innovation and investment in Ohio’s clean energy future and creates a steady path for future economic development and planning.”
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