Renewable Energy Competitiveness Update

Updated 11 April 2016

Wind Power

Utilities are selling conventional power for 50-65 $/MWh in Ohio (1). Meanwhile energy generate from wind in our region (IL, IN, MI, OH, & WI) is selling from $35 to $ 50 per MWh (2,3). Wind is clearly a cheaper option here.

Solar PV

The competitiveness of Solar is more difficult to judge. In sunnier regions, the price is $50-60 per MWh (4).   Columbus has about 25 percent less sun than cities with recently-installed solar installations (5). So we estimate the price of industrial solar in Columbus to be 25 percent higher or $62-75 per MWh. This price is barely competitive with conventional power in First Energy Territory ($64 per MWh), but high in other parts of the state.

References

(1) PUCO, Apples To Apples Chart Archive, accessed April 9, 2016, http://www.puco.ohio.gov/apps/directorylister/index.cfm?path=Electric%5C&filearea=1

(2) Ryan Wiser, et al., 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report, Aug. 2015 (n. b. fig. 46)  https://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/lbnl-188167_1.pdf

(3) Michigan Public Service Commission, Report On The Implementation Of The P.A. 295 Renewable Energy Standard And The Cost-Effectiveness Of The Energy Standards, February 12, 2016 http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mpsc/PA_295_Renewable_Energy_Report_2-12-16_514511_7.pdf

(4) M. Makyhoun, et al. Utility Solar Market Snapshot, May 2015 https://www.solarelectricpower.org/media/322918/solar-market-snapshot-2014.pdf

(5) Current Results, Average Annual Sunshine in American Cities, http://www.currentresults.com/Weather/US/average-annual-sunshine-by-city.php

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I Have Written a Rant

Ohio energy policy is broken and we are paying dearly to pick up the pieces. Just look at the average family, whose state income tax has fallen by about $300 per year. But this same family has an electric bill that is $300 per year higher than just eight years ago. Their tax relief has gone to the electric company.

Until last year utilities had to supply electricity ever more efficiently every year. These annual improvements were killed by state law. So the utilities can keep operating their old inefficient plants. To keep the electricity coming, PUCO has now imposed a rate-payer-funded subsidy for several inefficient coal plants and a rickety reactor.

Most states encourage renewable energy, but not Ohio. Wind energy has become as cheap as traditional sources. Our state’s reaction has been to throw roadblocks into new wind-farm construction.

In sum, Ohio can look forward to a future of higher electric rates and more carbon dioxide.