Is Energy Independence Likely For The US?

May 20, 2014
gas pump / Flickr Creative Commons

There has been a buzz in the media over the past couple of years about impending US energy independence. University of Dayton professor Bob Brecha has some thoughts on how likely this scenario is.

Many of us have seen or heard news stories predicting that the U.S. will become the world’s leading oil producer within a decade, and that North America as a whole could become a net exporter of oil in two decades’ time. Energy independence — a goal of U.S. administrations since the energy crises of the 1970s — may be within reach.

A bill that would put a hold on Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable standards is making its way through the state legislature after late-night passage in the state senate last Thursday. While opponents of the 2008 standards say they are costly for consumers, some are arguing the current standards are good for business and save money in the long run.

Freeze On State Energy Standards Closer To Passage

May 8, 2014

A measure to overhaul Ohio’s energy policies is on its way to the House after the state Senate held a vote very early Thursday morning. The bill would freeze the state’s efficiency and renewable standards for two years.

The standards, which have been in place since 2008, require utilities to achieve a certain amount of energy efficiency and use a certain amount of renewable sources by 2025.

New Ways of Thinking

May 6, 2014
Mike Baker / Flickr Creative Commons

When thinking about how much we are willing to do to prevent climate change, University of Dayton professor Bob Brecha wonders if we worry too much about economics alone.

Questions and comments often come up when I start talking about renewable energy. They go something like this: “I would like to install solar panels, but the payback time is just too long.” Or, when I bought a hybrid car ten years ago, friends said, “That’s nice, but how long will it take for gas savings to make up for the extra cost?”

State officials remind eligible Ohioans that they can get help managing energy costs this winter through a payment assistance program.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio says the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus allows eligible Ohioans to pay utility bills based on a percentage of household income.

Customers must receive their primary or secondary heat source from a company regulated by the utilities commission and have a total household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify.

NTE Energy

Plans for a new natural gas-fired power plant have been announced in Middletown. The plant would employ 300-400 people for about three years of construction, and 25-30 when it is up and running in 2018.

Middletown is part of a statewide trend towards natural gas and away from coal. From November 2012 to November 2013, energy generated from natural gas in Ohio increased 16 percent, in part because natural gas prices have become competitive with Appalachian coal.

On Monday, Governor John Kasich issued a ‘statewide energy emergency’ to deal with slowdowns in propane deliveries. Weather conditions and other factors are causing problems for fuel suppliers and their customers, and the governor’s declaration will allow propane and heating oil transporters to drive for more hours and more consecutive days than current regulations permit.

Propane production is actually up in the U.S. over the last five years, so the problem isn’t a shortage, it’s getting the gas to where it’s needed. 

liftarn / Openclipart

The state of Ohio has been investigating its competitive energy market for a year now, and the state reports electric competition is growing, which means more options for consumers.

Energy choice itself doesn’t look like much: the lights go on, the lights go off, and you pay your monthly bill the same way. But in the past, a utility company—the name that’s on most people’s electric bills—also owned the actual power plant. Electric choice, which was passed in Ohio over ten years ago, is gradually moving the market away from that system.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is expected to privatize more energy and utility operations as it tries to offset steep cuts in the federal defense budget.

The base has already asked for bids to privately manage two water plants on the base that pump more than three millions of gallons a day out of an underground aquifer.

Base spokesman Daryl Mayer tells the Dayton Daily News that the Defense Logistics Agency also has asked for bids to maintain the base infrastructure for waste water collection and natural gas distribution at the state's largest single-site employer.

 Voters passed electric aggregation in Xenia Tuesday by a margin of around 9 percent, and Dayton's ballot issue squeezed through with just a .51 percent margin in favor.

Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Jan Kelly says a final count will be complete Nov. 26, and official results including any recounts will be issued Dec. 6. Because the Dayton's aggregation proposal won by just 75 votes in the "official unofficial" tally (7,318 in favor and 7,243 against), it's still possible the final count could go the other way.