On August 20, 2008, the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) put forth proposed rules governing alternative and renewable energy sources.  The rules main purpose was to govern implementation of the State’s new Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) established in Senate Bill 221.  The AEPS is broader version of a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) adopted by other states which mandates a certain percentage of power come from designated renewable energy sources.

The PUCO set a very aggressive public comment period in an attempt to finalize the rules quickly.    The comment period closed on September 26, 2008.  In the short month long comment period, the PUCO received hundreds of pages of divergent comments on the proposed rules. (See my prior post: Issues with proposed rules governing the AEPS)  Since closure of the comment period, the PUCO has failed to developed a second version of the rules. 

Today, a company filed a new letter on the docket which discusses the real world impacts of the delay in finalizing the rules governing the administration of the AEPS in Ohio.  Until the rules are finalized, no one knows what the renewable energy credit (REC) market will look like in Ohio.   A REC is the certificate issued to generators of renewable energy sources.  The certificate can be sold to the utilities to meet their compliance requirements with the AEPS.  REC are seen as a way to encourage renewable energy development.

The problem is that there are so many questions left regarding the construction of the rules, no one can set a reliable price for RECs. S.B. 221 contained a cap on REC prices of $45 per megawatt which certainly is the ceiling on REC prices in Ohio.  However, that leave a huge range in potential prices that is highly dependent on the construction of the rules.

The compliance period for the AEPS in Ohio begins in 2009.  Without an established market projects will get delayed.  This will make it far more difficult for Utilities to comply with the AEPS mandates.  In 2009, Utilities must develop or purchase .25 % of their total generation capacity from renewable energy sources.  While a quarter of a percent may seem tiny, in an energy market as big as Ohio’s there will be a significant need for RECs.

In 2008 Ohio generated 13,000 megawatts of power.  A quarter percent means the REC compliance market in 2009 will be around 32,500 megawatts.  This is certainly enough to drive a significant amount of project develop in the State. 

Until the rules are established, the market for RECs will be uncertain.  Without this needed certainty many will delay moving forward with projects.  Of the states with an RPS, Ohio was one of the last states to establish an RPS.  This has meant Ohio has been late to the game in attracting investment and green jobs related to the renewable energy market.  The rules need to be finalized quickly so that Ohio doesn’t lag further behind.