State Representative Mike Dovilla (R-Berea), chairman of the Ohio House Committee on Policy and Legislative Oversight, this week convened the second in a series of hearings on affordable, reliable electricity to protect Ohio consumers. Following the hearing, Chairman Dovilla released the following statement and key findings of the committee:
“Our committee extended an open invitation to public officials, private companies, trade associations, and research institutes to discuss Ohio’s energy infrastructure, energy efficiency, advanced nuclear and natural gas power generation, and the role of renewables such as wind and solar in order for our state to enact a sound energy policy.
“As many witnesses testified, Ohio will be facing significant challenges in meeting the electricity needs of our state’s residents if coal-fired power generation is taken offline as scheduled due to regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There was unanimous agreement that all fuel sources need to be part of our electricity mix in order to sustain Ohio’s economic recovery and ensure affordable, reliable electricity.
Key points from testimony included the following:
• The retirement of coal-fired electricity generation units will have a very significant impact on the ability of electric utilities and cooperatives to provide affordable reliable energy to Ohio - particularly when these retirements are coming at the same time as population and electricity demand increases;
• The combination of increased electricity demand and reduced coal-fired generation will increase Ohio's electricity bills by as much as 28.35 percent;
• Ohio needs a balanced approach where coal, natural gas and nuclear, along with renewable resources, can meet Ohio's electricity demand without forcing the state to become overly reliant on any one fuel source. An unbalanced dependence could leave us vulnerable to rapid price fluctuations due to changes in commodity prices;
• Unfortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations - by forcing the premature shutdown of coal-fired power plants - will make it extremely difficult for states like Ohio to develop diverse portfolios that incorporate resources unique and abundant to a specific geographical area;
• America’s Natural Gas Alliance testified that the natural gas industry is ready to provide significant supplies of low-cost natural gas for electricity generation, but noted that the rules governing new capacity in the PJM Interconnection need to be revised to allow for somewhat longer commitments to new generating capacity which could significantly stimulate investment in new generation;
• According to the Electric Policy Research Institute, to ensure grid stability, power generated from renewable resources must be effectively deployed and integrated. This places greater importance on base load generation;
• Carbon capture storage is not commercially viable today as a realistic option to meet proposed EPA regulations for power plants, which will ultimately create an imbalance in power generation;
• One of the most cost-effective solutions to replace retiring coal-fired power generation in Ohio may be improving energy efficiency requirements supplemented with increasing wind and natural gas power production;
• The Nuclear Energy Institute testified that experience with deregulated markets, such as the case in Ohio, suggests that market price signals are not sufficient to stimulate investment in new generating capacity, or to support continued operation of existing capacity; and
• The unavailability of production sources for next generation baseload power system components is the most serious impediment for adapting Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies and Advanced UltraSuperCritical Clean Coal technologies in Ohio according to Energy Industries of Ohio.