Friday concluded the evidentiary hearing for the largest clean energy project in Ohio’s history at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) offices. Following nearly three and a half weeks of testimony by expert witnesses, the decision in the case to determine the need for 900MWs of Ohio renewable energy projects, which include 400 megawatts of solar powered generation to be located in Highland County, is now in the hands of the PUCO, which is experiencing turnover among its five-member voting panel.
Following Friday’s conclusion of formal hearings, the case now moves into the briefing phase where stakeholders will summarize their arguments for presentation to the commissioners for a decision. Initial briefs are due on March 6 and reply briefs are due on March 27. AEP has requested oral arguments where stakeholders would verbally make their case directly to the PUCO commissioners. A decision has not yet been made regarding the request, which will be decided by the commissioners themselves. The five PUCO commissioners will then deliberate to make the final decision and determine renewable energy’s role in Ohio’s energy future.
Two new PUCO commissioners, including a new chairman, are expected to help decide the outcome of this historic case and whether Appalachian Ohio will benefit from these projects. Last week, Governor Mike DeWine appointed attorney Sam Randazzo chairman of the PUCO to fill a vacancy created by Tom Johnson whose term ends in April. That same day, current Chairman Asim Haque announced his resignation from the PUCO, creating an opportunity for the governor to quickly make another commissioner appointment. As a result, of the five commissioners that will decide this case, two will be very recent appointments of Governor DeWine.
These Appalachian solar projects have brought together stakeholders from across the state who believe in using renewable energy to improve our economy and to improve Appalachia Ohio.
Submitted by Julie Theado, Krile Communications.