On 3/31/16, the PUCO issued its long awaited decisions on the PPA proposals submitted by FirstEnergy and AEP. The proposals sought to guarantee profits from older unregulated coal and nuclear power plants that can no longer compete on price in wholesale electricity markets. The proposals require ratepayers to subsidize these older plants to ensure that the utilities recover their costs of operation with a guaranteed rate of return.
However, there is good news for the energy efficiency and renewable energy industry. Both AEP and FirstEnergy offered concessions to get their respective PPA’s approved. This means a gigawatt of new in-state renewable energy is now potentially on the table. Half of that is supposed to be wind projects, though the wind turbine setback requirements enacted by the General Assembly in 2014 could make that difficult to achieve. (Grandfathered projects can likely compete, though those are finite in number). The rest will be mainly solar. Additionally, FirstEnergy has committed to restart its energy efficiency program in 2017.