Cincinnati Council Calls For End To Energy Freeze; MISO Confirms Andre Porter Hiring, Leland Urges Democrat For PUCO Vacancy...

Gongwer News Service

Cincinnati City Council members this week added their voices to the list of those calling for the reinstatement of Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.

The council passed a resolution Wednesday stating members' belief that an end to the freeze will grow jobs and save consumers dollars.

"The mayor and council support the state of Ohio's (standards) because sound clean energy policy creates jobs for the local economy, provides opportunities for local businesses and residents to save money, and protects public health through investments in a low-emissions, diverse electric grid," reads the resolution.

The resolution is to be sent to Gov. John Kasich, Senate President Keith Faber, and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, along with all members of four Senate and House committee pertaining to energy or public utilities.

Cleveland, in April, made a similar move, passing its own resolution calling for the benchmarks' restoration.

Three bills from Republican lawmakers have been proposed to deal with the freeze. One would extend the freeze three years, another would extend it indefinitely, and a third would abolish the standards entirely.

With the freeze set to expire in December without action, Republican lawmakers face a ticking clock. But none of those bills are slated for hearings next week, after which both chambers are expected to enter summer break. In that case, the conversation would likely be pushed back to when sessions resume in the fall.

PUCO: Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) is asking Gov. John Kasich to appoint a Democrat to fill the spot soon to be vacated by Public Utilities Commissioner Andre Porter.

Meanwhile, Carmel, Ind.-based MISO Energy on Friday made official its long rumored hiring of Mr. Porter, who ended his time with the PUCO this week. Mr. Porter will serve as the company's general counsel.

"Andre's background spans a broad spectrum of the energy industry and he has extensive experience working with commissions and FERC," MISO President and CEO John Bear said. "His expertise is a great match for MISO's business as we intensify our focus on working with our members and stakeholders to provide reliable, least cost energy to consumers."

Applications for the PUCO post will be accepted by a nominating council until June 1, with Gov. Kasich ultimately tasked with appointing the new commissioner. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, May 16, 2016)

Mr. Porter's departure leaves the five member board - which by law can't contain more than three commissioners from one party - consisting of two independents and two Republicans. Gov. Kasich in 2015 replaced a departing Democrat commissioner with Mr. Porter. A Democrat hasn't sat on the panel since.

"Bipartisanship is vital to good government - it ensures we have checks and balances so that decisions are measured and fair," Rep. Leland said. "With an agency like the PUCO, which makes multi-billion dollar decisions affecting millions of Ohioans, bipartisanship is absolutely essential."

Rep. Leland introduced a bill in March 2015 (HB 122*) to require both parties be represented on the commission. The bill has yet to receive a hearing before the House Committee on Government Accountability & Oversight.

He said the intent of the law is not being honored without equal presentation between both political parties. And other Democrats agree.

Senate Democrats in February voted against reappointing Mr. Porter, saying their opposition was less about Mr. Porter's qualifications and more about the imbalance of the committee's makeup. Mr. Porter's reappointment passed easily with Republican support. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, February 23, 2016)

PJM: The company said it's prepared to meet added demand this summer, which is forecasted to peak at more than 152,000 megawatts.

That would be an increase over 2015's summer peak of 143,500 MW on July 28, according to a PJM release.

But with 183,912 MW of installed generating capacity, and 8,700 MW of demand response standing by, the company said it has more than enough capacity to meet demand.

"Summer tests the system as people try to keep cool in hot and humid weather," Vice President of Operations Michael Bryson said. "With continued transmission enhancements, reinforced capacity commitments and slowing forecasted load growth, we're prepared to meet the region's needs."

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