Commercial, Energy Efficiency, Industrial, Utilities  -  January 13, 2017

Ohio C&I groups neutral on energy efficiency deal

Two commercial and industrial company organizations — the Ohio Manufactures' Association and Industrial Energy Users — alongside the Kroger Co. have agreed not to oppose a new settlement over FirstEnergy's revised energy efficiency plan for its Ohio utility customers. 

Midwest Energy News on Jan. 5 reported that the large investor-owned utility holding company had reached a settlement in December with a number of environmental groups regarding the plan, which was originally filed with Ohio regulators in April 2016, after the company eliminated previously included terms that would have allowed the utilities to profit from energy savings initiatives it did not control. The Ohio Manufactures Association, Industrial Energy Users, and Kroger did not join the settlement but agreed not to oppose it, according to the publication. 

The publication quoted Samantha Williams of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the settling parties, as saying the revised plan acknowledges the value of energy efficiency for customers. Other parties that agreed to the settlement included Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, Energy Management Solutions, IGS Energy and EnerNOC.

Still, tensions between the utilities and the Ohio Manufacturers Association appear to remain. Midwest Energy News reported Kimberly Bojko, who represents the Ohio Manufacturers' Association Energy Group in the case, as saying that FirstEnergy "again asked to be insulated for poor past decisions, requesting to lower the threshold for achieving shareholder profit." 

Midwest Energy News reported:

It appears that those provisions might kick in before FirstEnergy had fully met energy efficiency commitments that it agreed to in another case that sought a "bailout" for unprofitable generating plants.

"Continuing to bail out FirstEnergy for poor past decisions is not in the best interest of Ohio’s manufacturers," Bojko was quoted as saying.

The publication reported that as other Ohio utilities continued to offer a range of money-saving efficiency programs during the recent two-year freeze on the state's clean energy standards, "FirstEnergy had moved to gut most of its efficiency programs in 2014." That freeze, which also affected the state's clean energy policies, ended Jan. 1 amid support from Ohio businesses despite Legislature efforts to continue it. 

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