Utilities in Ohio Claim They Can’t Meet State’s Solar Standard

Date: 25 Mar 2011 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Vote Solar reports that Ohio utility First Energy is claiming for the second straight year that it can’t meet the state’s solar carve out. 

First Energy Corp – which is parent company to Toledo Edison, Ohio Edison and Cleveland Electric Illuminating – reports that they were unable to find enough solar renewable energy credits in Ohio needed to satisfy their 2010 benchmark for solar energy. First Energy has filed for  force majeure for the second year in a row claiming that it was a circumstance beyond their control, a legal ‘act of God’,  that prevented the company from buying the needed SRECs….it’s awfully suspect that an Act of God would occur twice in a row.

It is, for two reasons. First, as we detailed in our 2009 report – Energy Self-Reliant States – Ohio is like many states in having sufficient rooftop space for solar PV to supply 20 percent of the state’s electricity.  There’s no shortage of sunshine.

Additionally, it’s far less expensive for the utility to buy solar than to pay the alternative compliance payment.  In 2011, utilities must either acquire the necessary solar renewable energy credits (RECs) or pay $400 per megawatt-hour (MWh) that they fail to acquire. 

However, a large-scale solar PV system in Ohio with an installed cost of $6 per Watt only needs 22.6 cents per kWh ($226 per MWh) to break even over 25 years (if they use federal incentives).  With a long-term contract with a known price for solar RECs (something they have yet to offer), First Energy can surely find a solar developer willing to help them out.

After all, that’s exactly what other Ohio utilities are doing:

First Energy could have followed the example of AEP Ohio, a neighboring utility that has successfully entered into a long term PPA with a 10 MW solar farm and is in development for another 49 MW solar facility as we write. If AEP can do it, so can First Energy.

First Energy’s problems with solar have little to do with God or their state’s solar resources, and everything to do with giving up.

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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.