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Ohio’s Power Plant Communities Reckon With Coal’s Decline
The state’s plant workers, residents, and local leaders seek new sources of livelihood while reflecting on coal’s complex legacy for their communities.
Former Coal-Mining Town in Appalachian Ohio Seeks to Reinvent Itself
Drawing on local strengths, the town of Shawnee is combining outdoor recreation and downtown revitalization to create economic opportunity.
Research Estimates Utility-Scale Solar’s Economic Potential in Appalachian Ohio
A new report says that large solar developments could create tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity in the region.
Advocates in southern Ohio push for a stronger tourism industry
A group in the former coal-mining town of Shawnee is marketing guided tours of historic sites, live music events, and outdoor recreation in hopes of attracting visitors and new residents.
In coalfield Ohio, employment goes from bad to worse
An industry already in decline has been slowed further by the pandemic. For miners, “there’s no option to work from home,” and the jobless rate has soared as a result.
Paint-production company sees value in Ohio coal runoffs
Pigments extracted from mine sludge will go into paints sold nationally by Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors. “We’ve created a valuable commodity out of the waste product,” a project activist said.
Ohio’s resistance to energy modernization is hurting its economy
Campaigns orchestrated by “traveling anti-wind grifters funded by nonrenewable energy interests” have enabled the legislator to delay power-generation transition, putting the state at a regional disadvantage that undermines its economy.
Plant closures in Arizona, Ohio, and Montana seen as harbingers of more to come
“By all indications, the pain will continue, with the EIA projecting that coal companies will cut production by an additional 100 million tons this year, to about 600 million tons.”
Commentary: Ohio legislative limit on wind turbines would hit farmers hard
“We cannot afford to impede a free market that is ready to create thousands more energy jobs and catapult our economy forward,” writes the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum’s executive director.
Fierce pushback in southern Ohio on new mine proposal
Skeptics of plans for the 36-acre Johnson Run coal mine in Trimble Township are questioning whether the company in question could meet cleanup requirements after the original developer filed for bankruptcy.
Commentary: Ohio solar farms supply fresh revenues for struggling school districts
Two new utility-scale farms suggest more to come, creating a boon to public-school tax bases. “The real impetus for turning cropland into solar arrays is simple economics,” writes the author.
Ohio cement factory turns to on-site wind power
By mid-summer, LafargeHolcim will be getting one-fifth of its electricity from three new on-site wind turbines in a move that is being described as “a good business decision.”
A smattering of Ohio windfarms proves a boon to local tax bases
In northeast Ohio, millions of dollars in tax revenues from an emerging wind industry have stabilized local school finances and funded improvements in roads, parks, and senior services.
Ohio solar industry is quietly gaining traction
Almost 90 utility-scale solar projects are in the development pipeline in Ohio, which has lagged in renewable energy buildouts but now ranks No. 1 in Midwestern solar ambitions.
Economic trauma in Ohio after two major plants close
Closures last year of the J.M. Stuart and Killen coal-stations have decimated small-town economies. “The only thing we had going for us, really were the power plants,” said a local sheriff.
FirstEnergy bankruptcy spells likely closure of company’s Ohio coal plants
Barring some form of bailout, FirstEnergy will proceed with a phaseout for its Ohio coal plants. The company is in bankruptcy after having failed to diversify its electricity-generation holdings.
Wind farm projects lift credit rating for Ohio county
Moody’s Investors Service has raised its credit rating for Paulding County in northwestern Ohio as the tax base has grown in no small part because of a booming wind-farm industry.
Ohio coal investor endorses Appalachian solar farm
A long-time coal-trading company in Ohio has called for state approval of a Highland County utility-scale solar farm that would create jobs in a region beleaguered the decline of coal.
Survey: Majority of Americans prefer renewable energy
A poll by Consumer Reports finds that most Americans would prefer to get their electricity from renewable sources. Of note in the survey results: Residents of four states with a higher-than-average use of coal—Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia—are in line with the majority.
Biggest U.S. carmaker is turning to renewables to run its factories
General Motors, the biggest carmaker in the U.S., is moving aggressively to source electricity for its factories from renewables instead of traditional fossil-fuel-fired power plants. The shift is driven by cost considerations at manufacturing facilities that make pickups and SUVs in Illinois and Ohio. “Wind and solar are the lowest cost resource,” a GE executive said. “We’re buying into long-term contracts that have no fuel components, so we can put price stability in the cost to build these vehicles.”
Report: Planned closures of FirstEnergy coal plants won’t affect grid reliability
PJM Interconnect, which operates the electricity grid in Pennsylvania and 13 other states, has concluded that when FirstEnergy retires its coal-fired power plants in the region the move will have no effect on service. The company has announced plans to close the Bruce Mansfield plant outside Pittsburgh, the W.H. Sammis plant in eastern Ohio and the Pleasants Power plant in northern West Virginia.
FirstEnergy, unable to land a bailout, says it will close plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania
FirstEnergy announced this week it will close its three remaining coal-fired power plants in Ohio and its last one in Pennsylvania. The company said the plants cannot compete with electricity produced by renewables and natural gas. Some observers cautioned that the announcement may be largely political, however, as FirstEnergy continues to seek federal subsidies to keep the plants online. “We're talking about billions of dollars being used to bail out a failing industry, when these closures are inevitable and irreversible,” one critic of that strategy said. “There are a lot better uses for that money.”
Westmoreland Coal cancels plans for new mine in southern Ohio
Westmoreland Coal has suspended a plan to open a new mine in southern Ohio. The company, which has been in financial straits for some time, cited “steadily increasing” costs and “problems and uncertainties” with water permits. The plan had called for mine discharge to be poured into a stream that for years has been part of a recovery program aimed at cleaning up pollution from previous mines. Project opponents included farmers, environmentalists, and ATV enthusiasts.
Ohio businesses push back against coal bailout proposal
Businesses in Ohio are pushing back against plans by the Trump administration to bail out failing coal plants. Ohio’s competitive energy market is at risk, say skeptics of the proposal who see it as a subsidy that would cost electricity customers of every kind. “We favor free-market competition in all industries, including the energy industry,” said a spokesman for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We are opposed to all unbalanced state and or/federal support without a defined return on investment for the taxpayers and consumers.”
Commentary: Wind and solar suggest a potential boom in Ohio’s energy industry
Ohio stands to benefit from the expansion of the renewable energy industry, which by one estimate can create $2 billion in economic activity and 5,500 new jobs over the next decade or so. The state’s electricity market is ripe for the development of wind farms, rooftop solar, and utility-scale solar projects that could supply power to 1.1 households, nearly a quarter of the state’s total by 2020. “As the regional market continues to grow, Ohio can capture both investment and economic growth by building wind and solar facilities, providing itself and other PJM states with clean electricity,” writes the author.
Editorial: Schemes to subsidize coal industry are part of a rank ‘payback’ that won’t fly
An Ohio newspaper, weighing in on Trump administration proposals to bail out the faltering U.S. coal industry, argues that such initiatives will only deter economic development in more promising sectors. “The loss of coal-related jobs unquestionably has been painful for coal regions, and their anxiety is justified,” the Columbus Dispatch writes. “Trump has exploited that anxiety and anger, winning support by making promises that are bad for the country and most likely can’t be delivered anyway.”
A Jobs Pitch in Ohio for a Clean-Energy Economy
An Ohio energy group is calling for great public awareness of the growth potential in the state’s clean-energy sector. Advocates say modernizing Ohio’s power system can enhance grid reliability, create jobs and keep electricity rates under control. “These kinds of policies are going to benefit all Ohioans,” one proponent said.
A Push in Southern Ohio for a More Diversified Economy
Athens County, Ohio, in the heart of Northern Appalachian coal country, has the biggest solar energy capacity per capital in the state, and residents are calling for more. “It’s wrong to think that this region has only a coal-country mindset,” one advocate said. “There is a push to be new energy leaders in new ways. We want to generate our own power because we want to be independent from the extractive powers that have made decisions for this region for so long.”
In Seeking Federal Bailout, FirstEnergy Does So at Others’ Expense
FirstEnergy’s plea for a government bailout puts the Trump administration in a difficult political position: Whether to rescue a failing industry at the expense of ratepayers and other sectors of the U.S. energy economy or let market forces determine outcomes. Saving the company “would hurt rival energy businesses and could raise electricity prices for companies and consumers across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.”
FirstEnergy’s Failures Require a Fierce Response From Civic Leaders and Elected Officials
As it closes two nuclear plants in Ohio, FirstEnergy continues a downward spiral leaving communities to pick up the pieces. "As Cindy Winland of the Just Transition Fund has pointed out, the size and the number of closings of coal-fired and nuclear plants in Ohio makes the state an epicenter of energy industry disruption."
Editorial: Ohio Policymakers Would Do Well to Acknowledge Coal Is on Its Way Out
As the state contemplates whether to allow a coal company to open a new mine in Athens County, Ohio, skeptics wonder about its financial viability and whether such a project would be able to honor its environmental commitments. As proponents push for an Ohio coal comeback, market forces suggest a resurgence is unlikely: “This is the economic reality that must be acknowledged when Ohio’s environmental and natural resources policymakers weigh the terms and conditions for issuing new wastewater permits for mining operations.”
Survey: Swing-State Voters Favor Transition to Renewable Electricity Generation
A new survey finds that most voters in five swing states—Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia—favor state policies mandating 100 percent reliance on renewable energy for electricity generation. The survey results “serve as a potential warning to candidates to support renewable-energy policies or face possible voter backlash.”
Coal company with mines in several states is in financial peril
An analysis of Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal shows that it is in deep financial peril, a situation that may affect communities in Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wyoming as the company’s customer base dries up. “The cost inherent in coal-fired power are moving (utilities) away from coal," says the study’s author.
Closed Ohio Plant Sold for Redevelopment
A southern Ohio coal-fired power plant that was retired in 2014 has been sold to a real estate company that plans to redevelop the property. Terms of the transaction around the sale of the Walter C. Beckjord plant site include $750,000 for an economic-development organization in Clermont County. “We're pleased that this historic property is poised for a second act as an integral part of our community,” said the president of Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky. The plant’s first unit went online in 1952.
Electricity Company That Reaches Into 11 States Announces a Clean-Energy Transition
Ohio-based American Electric Power, which has five million customers in 11 midwestern and southern states, is changing its business model from coal-fired generation to a combination of gas- and renewable-driven power. “The energy industry is in an era of transformation, moving rapidly toward a cleaner energy economy,” said Nick Akins, AEP’s chairman, president and CEO.
Ohio Coal Production Falls by 28%
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has published a report concluding that coal production in the state dropped by 28 percent last year as competing energy sources took market share away. The downturn is especially difficult for Belmont County, which was responsible for 64 percent of Ohio’s coal production in 2016.
How Fossil Fuel Allies Are Tearing Apart Ohio's Embrace of Clean Energy
With scare studies, policy drafts and political donations, industry groups turned Ohio lawmakers against policies they once overwhelmingly supported.
Pushback in Ohio Against Coal Subsidy Plan
The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the grid operator PJM Interconnection and the free-market Buckeye Institute are among those filing objections to a Trump administration proposal to subsidize the coal industry.
Ohio Businesses Oppose Bill to Slow Electricity-Generation
Major companies in Ohio, an important consumer of Appalachian coal, are fighting a legislative proposal to slow the state’s transition to clean energy. Among them: Gap Inc., Ikea North America, Nestle, and Cliff Bar & Co. Ohio has also become a hotbed for companies that are turning entirely to renewable energy, including Facebook and General Motors.