Energy

Are We Heading for a Hydropower Boom on the Three Rivers?

Dec 12, 2016
The hydroelectric power station at the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River (pictured above) is one of the larger hydropower projects in Pennsylvania—generating enough electricity to power 400,000 homes.
Michael Scialdone / Flickr Creative Commons

Behind a chain link fence, Paul Jacob watches water spill over a dam on Neville Island—a 1,200-acre stretch of land in the Ohio River near Pittsburgh that’s a hive of industrial lots and chemical plants. But to Jacob, the white froth at the base of the Emsworth Back Channel dam—built in 1936—represents an opportunity.

“The water over that dam—that basically is unused energy,” Jacob says. “You’ve got a substantial flow of water.”

Kym Farnik / Flickr Creative Commons

The role of coal as an energy source is diminishing in this country.  Ten years ago, half of the electricity in this country came from burning coal, but today, that number has dropped to one third. The coal companies have claimed that the Obama administration is waging a WAR on Coal .   But sustainability commentator Bob Brecha isn’t so sure.

It's been 27 years since the Fernald Feed Materials Production Site in southwest Ohio closed down. Ten years ago this weekend, the work to replace the contaminated uranium plant with a nature preserve wrapped up.  For Ohio Public Radio, WVXU's Bill Rinehart looks at the 1-thousand-fifty acre site and what happened to return it to its natural state.

The Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management is hosting an event October 29 to remember the cleanup and to showcase the Preserve. It's from 10 to 2 at the visitors center on Willey Road.

How Labor and Environmental Groups Are Finding Common Ground

Jul 4, 2016
John Stamets via Flickr

When you think of an environmental hero, a plumber might not be the first person who comes to mind. But this year, a union representing plumbers and pipefitters earned a “champion” award from a nationwide coalition of environmental and labor groups called the BlueGreen Alliance.

Duke Energy power lines, energy
Duke Energy

Ohioans could see a new charge in their electric bills as early as June, now that state regulators have approved plans by FirstEnergy and AEP to guarantee income for struggling coal plants. But while opponents are fighting the ruling, those utilities are touting the benefits.

Groups against the so-called coal plant bailout say the ruling from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio gives AEP and FirstEnergy an unfair competitive advantage.

But AEP President, Pablo Vegas, says his utility needed the ability to charge customers more in order to stabilize costs.

Duke Energy / Flickr Creative Commons

Regulators have approved a pair of deals that allow FirstEnergy and AEP to impose short-term rate increases on electricity customers in Ohio to subsidize some older coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio unanimously passed the power purchase agreements for Akron-based FirstEnergy and Columbus-based AEP Thursday. Opponents are likely to challenge the decisions.

The companies submitted the latest versions of their plans to the commission in December.

New Proposal Aims To Derail Plans For Energy Rate Increase

Jan 14, 2016
Duke Energy power lines, energy
Duke Energy

Independent energy provider Dynegy's entrance into the the crowded Ohio energy market could affect competitors plans to raise rates. 

AEP and First Energy have asked state regulators to allow them to hike customers' bills to ensure energy production and guarantee income for their struggling coal plants through 2030. 

Texas-based Dynegy recently bought several coal and natural gas plants from Duke Energy. Now, the company says it can counter plans from AEP and FirstEnergy by offering the same amount of energy for $5 billion less.

Future Of Coal Debated In Columbus

Jan 7, 2016
Flickr Creative Commons user Bill Herndon

Who should be paying to keep power plants afloat that are inefficient and don’t do very well in the market—the utility company or its customers?

That's the question under hot debate in Columbus as major utility AEP fights to keep several of its coal plants open through 2030. 

My Renewable Electrons

Dec 28, 2015
Claudio Schwarz / Flickr Creative Commons

Nowadays it’s possible to choose where you get your electricity from by signing up for options including renewable energy.  Commentator and UD Professor Bob Brecha asks how we know if our electricity is really green.

After hearing one of my WYSO essays, a listener contacted me to ask what I thought about switching her electricity service to a “green” option, which is offered by various providers, such as DP&L.  But this question interests me because it tends to generate a lot of controversy.

Duke Energy / Flickr Creative Commons

The State of Ohio has had a good plan for encouraging renewable energy and energy efficiency.  But now the State legislature is threatening to roll back this future-oriented plan.  Commentator and University of Dayton professor Bob Brecha explains.

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