The lengthy rulemaking process undertaken by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (the Commission) to implement the alternative energy portfolio standard in S.B. 221 began nearly a year ago. Among other things, it resulted in a proposed procedure by which alternative energy providers can apply to the Commission for certification of a particular project/facility as an advanced or renewable energy resource and thus to become eligible to generate Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). Even though Ohio Administrative Code Rule (OAC) Chapter 4901:1-40 must be approved by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) before becoming effective, the Commission signaled that it will consider certification applications prior to final approval by JCARR, expected in 60 to 90 days.

OAC 4901:1-40-04(F)1 creates a mandatory procedure by which an alternative energy provider applies to the Commission for certification of a particular project/facility as an advanced or renewable energy resource. The primary purpose of the certification process is to demonstrate that the project or facility involves an advanced or renewable resource that is deliverable into the state. It is only after the project/facility is certified that the relevant advanced or renewable energy project or facility “counts” toward satisfying SB 221’s alternative energy portfolio benchmarks. In order to qualify as an alternative energy resource, the project or facility must be placed in service after January 1, 1998.

The certification process is initiated by the e-filing of an application (and corresponding affidavit) through the Commission’s Docketing Information System website (http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/) E-filing requires the applicant to create a user profile using the Commission’s website. The instructions for filing a certification application, and the certification application form itself, can be accessed at http://www.puco.ohio.gov/puco/forms.

The certification process established by the Commission does not require mandatory notice or a hearing, but it does allow an interested party to intervene and file comments and/or objections to the certification application within 20 days of its filing date. For an application that is complete, not contested and that is not subject to data requests by the staff, it is estimated that the processing time will take 60 days or fewer.

Upon the Commission’s approval of an application, a project/facility will qualify for purposes of Ohio’s alternative energy portfolio standard and be eligible to generate Ohio-recognized RECs. The Commission then will provide the facility with a state-specific certification number, which allows an approved tracking system (i.e. GATS or M-RETS) to process and track both generation and RECs.

Five certification applications for biomass facilities were filed in late June and early July. The first, by Schmack BioMass OARDC, requested certification of its an anaerobic digestion facility (with a nameplate capacity of .4 MW) as an Ohio renewable energy resource. The electricity produced will be supplied directly to buildings on its campus located in Cleveland, Ohio.

The next three applications, filed in early July, were also for biomass facilities that appear to be ultimately owned by Energy Developments, Inc. Three separate limited liability companies filed applications for landfill gas projects in Lowellville, Oberlin and Port Clinton, Ohio. The projects’ aggregated nameplate capacity of 35.1 MW with the output to be sold to AMP-Ohio in distributed generation settings involving American Transmission Systems and Oberlin Municipal Light and Power System.

A fifth certification application, also filed in July, by Twenty-First Century Energy LLC, requested certification for a photovoltaic facility in Fairborn, Ohio with a nameplate capacity of .041 MW to be sold in a distributed generation setting involving a net metering agreement with Dayton Power and Light.