Public Comments on Report Due May 21, 2101

Last month, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO or the Commission) issued its annual report detailing the compliance of the state's investor-owned utilities and electric suppliers with Ohio's renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The report highlights policies that may encourage the wider use of renewable resources.

The report, which is required by statute to be provided to the General Assembly, primarily recounts the compliance shortfalls of 2009 and 2010 caused by the shortage of in-state solar resources. It also provides updated figures on the number of renewable generating facilities certified by the PUCO. As of November 30, 2011, the Commission had certified 3,873 facilities, 528 of them located in Ohio and the rest located out of state. With 3,775 facilities, solar accounts for the vast majority of certified facilities followed by wind with 37.

On the policy front, the Commission’s report relies heavily on the analysis provided in an accompanying report commissioned by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) to determine "Ohio's alternative energy market availability and potential." In its report, NARUC estimated the supply of "Ohio-eligible renewable energy resources" — resources that could count toward the utilities' RPS requirements — based in Ohio and the five contiguous states. The report concludes that "there is sufficient current and projected supply . . . to meet the renewable energy resources requirements of the Ohio [RPS] and the renewable energy requirements or goals in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky through 2020."

The NARUC report examines five policy options that could promote the wider use of renewable energy resources:

  • Adopting Commission policies to support long-term contracts between utilities and renewable energy developers;
  • Adopting a feed-in tariff to provide a specified rate for generation from eligible technologies;
  • Encouraging customer-sited or distributed generation;
  • Providing additional state tax incentives for renewable energy technologies; and
  • Supporting the wider use of public benefit funds, created through nonbypassable surcharges on customers' electric or gas bills, such as Ohio's Advanced Energy Fund.

The PUCO report concludes that with renewable energy development and regulation "dramatically growing around the world . . . it is important for Ohio policymakers and stakeholders to keep informed about alternative policies and trends in relation to Ohio's [RPS], and develop policies or incentives as needed to support successful implementation of the standard."

The PUCO is required to solicit public input prior to submitting the report to the legislature. The Commission is inviting interested parties to file comments by May 21.