May 8: Consumers' Counsel analyzes new Ohio energy law
COLUMBUS -- "Janine Migden-Ostrander, Ohio Consumers' Counsel, has released an analysis of the new Ohio energy law, signed on May 1 by Governor Ted Strickland. Her perspective deserves attention because she is one of a handful of people in Columbus who actually understand the new law. As Consumers' Counsel, Migden-Ostrander is a residential utility consumer advocate in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action. MORE ON OHIO CONSUMERS COUNSEL
May 6: $1.5 billion should make breathing easier
Coal-fired power plant finally gets air scrubbers
STRATTON -- Scrubbing air, Ohio coal-fired power plant forced by regulations, lawsuits to reduce compounds tied to smog, soot and acid rain, Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch.
May 2: Kansas governor's third coal plant veto sustained
TOPEKA, KS -- "Kansas will not have two new coal-fired power plants at Holcomb in the western part of the state. Late Thursday night, the Kansas House narrowly sustained the third veto of a bill to allow the plants by Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat. The vote in the House was 80-45, four votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the governor's veto. Closely watched as an indicator of the mood of the Midwest on coal power, the battle between the governor and the Republican controlled Statehouse over Sunflower Electric's bid to expand its Holcomb Generating Station has absorbed much of this legislative session," Environmental News Service.
Apr 29: Coal price hikes boost electric rates, more increases coming
Apr 16: Virginia rejects AEP power plant
CHARLESTON, WV -- "American Electric Power plans to appeal Virginia's rejection of a plan to build a $2.23 billion clean-coal plant in West Virginia, a company spokesman said. Virginia's State Corporation Commission on Monday denied a request from Columbus, Ohio-based AEP to build the Mason County plant. The commission also rejected a proposal to increase rates to start recovering construction costs from customers. The commission said the plant's estimated price, which dates back to November 2006, isn't credible. It also said AEP has no plans to provide a detailed, updated estimate until it gets full regulatory approval," Tim Huber, Forbes Magazine.
Apr 14: Utilities amassing landfills
Tougher air standards send tons of plants' sludge, coal ash into ground
Apr 14: Still breathing
Village lives on after power company's buyout, residents' relocation to find cleaner air
Apr 9: Historic settlement provides states with $24 million
COLUMBUS -- "The figures are out on a $75 million portion of a landmark settlement between the country's largest power company and the federal government and several states. Ohio-based American Electric Power Co. will pay $24 million to eight states, $15 million in civil penalties and $36 million for various environmental protection projects, putting the finishing touches on a settlement reached in October. The settlement also called for improvements to AEP's 16 sites at an estimated cost of $4.6 billion, making it the largest environmental enforcement settlement ever in terms of the value of the injunctive relief and emission reduction," John O'Brien, Legal Newsline.
Mar 31: $40 million ad campaign
Energy companies plug coal's 'clean' benefits
Mar 20: Coal can't fill world's burning appetite
With supplies short, price rise surpasses oil and U.S. exporters profit
WASHINGTON, DC -- "Big swings in the prices of coal and other commodities are common. But while the price of coal has slipped slightly in recent weeks, many analysts and companies are wondering whether high prices are here to stay. As increasing numbers of the world's poor join the middle classes, hooking up to electricity grids and buying up more manufactured goods, demand for coal grows. World consumption of coal has grown 30 percent in the past six years, twice as much as any other energy source. About two-thirds of the fuel supplies electricity plants, and just under a third heads to industrial users, mostly steel and concrete makers. Meeting rising demand will prove difficult. To maintain its role as the world's producer of last resort, the United States will need to make major investments in mines, railways and ports," Steven Mufson and Blaine Harden, Washington Post.
Mar 5: Loans program for coal plants suspended
BILLINGS, MT -- "The federal government is suspending a major loan program for coal-fired power plants in rural communities, saying the uncertainties of climate change and rising construction costs make the loans too risky. After issuing $1.3 billion in loans for new plant construction since 2001, none will be issued this year and likely none in 2009, James Newby, assistant administrator for the Rural Utilities Service, a branch of the Department of Agriculture, said Tuesday. The program's suspension marks a dramatic reversal of a once-reliable source of new coal plant financing. It follows the announcement last month that several major banks will require plant developers to factor in climate change when seeking private funding," Matthew Brown, Business Week.
Mar 4: U.S. coal power boom suddenly wanes
Worries about global warming and rising construction costs give the edge to natural-gas and renewable-energy plants
MA -- "Concerns about global warming and rising building costs are
blocking construction of new coal-fired power plants in the United
States and pushing utilities to turn to natural gas and renewable power
instead. Utilities canceled or put on hold at least 45 coal plants in
development last year, according to a new analysis by the US Department
of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh. These
moves – a sharp reversal from a year ago, when the industry had more
than 150 such plants in development – signal the waning of a major US
expansion into coal," Mark Clayton, Christian Science
Jan 28: Event to revisit power company's purchase of town
Jan 21: Proposed plants face opposition in Meigs
ATHENS -- "Two proposed
coal-burning power plants under development in Meigs County are among
dozens of such projects nationwide under attack from environmental
groups. American Electric Power plans to build a 629-megawatt power
plant in the Great Bend area along the Ohio River, while American
Municipal Power-Ohio is seeking approval of a 960-megawatt power plant
in Letart Falls. Opposition to the AEP proposal so far seems to be
substantially less than that of the AMP-Ohio project, which several
local, state and national environmental and consumer groups oppose,"
Richard Heck, Athens Messenger. Published January
Jan 11: Ohio EPA cites area for soot problems
AKRON -- "It's official: Summit, Stark, Portage, Medina and Cuyahoga counties have bigger problems with microscopic soot. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency wants to designate these five counties plus 16 others as failing to meet tighter federal limits for soot, or particulates, and creating a health threat. The 21 counties aren't complying with tighter daily soot limits adopted in 2006 by the U.S. EPA. Most of the counties are under earlier federal orders to curtail soot levels by 2010. The new designation, which had been expected, could trigger tighter new and costly restrictions on diesel- and gasoline-powered vehicles, coal-burning power plants and smokestack emissions," Bob Downing, Akron Beacon Journal. Article published Januray 10.
Battelle researchers say they can clean streams polluted by abandoned coal mines
ST MICHAEL, PA -- "Thick iron girders and broken concrete litter the snowy banks of Topper Run, remnants of the Maryland No. 1 and No. 2 coal mines that closed 50 years ago. But perhaps the ugliest reminder is the 4.3 million gallons of toxic water that flow from an old shaft every day. It's called 'acid mine drainage' -- water spiked with sulfuric acid and eroded iron -- and it has turned hundreds of streams in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia into toxic wastelands for fish, mollusks and insects," Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch.
Dec 27: Plans for at least 8 clean coal plants hit snags
Dec 12: Utility snuffs coal projects
SWEETWATER COUNTY, WY -- "Two coal-based power projects planned for southwest Wyoming have been snuffed due to an uncertain political climate regarding greenhouse gases. PacifiCorp, which operates as Rocky Mountain Power in Wyoming, said it has pulled all coal-based power generation from its plan to meet increasing load demand within the six Western states it serves... 'The situation the company finds itself in now is a significant amount of uncertainty about what climate change regulation might do to the cost of coal plants,' Eskelsen said Monday. 'Coal projects are no longer viable,'" Dustin Bleizeffer , Casper Star-Tribune. Published December 11.
Dec 11: Judge greenlights AEP settlement
SAINT CLAIRSVILLE -- "The largest environmental settlement involving the U.S. government was approved this morning by District Court Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. near several power plants affected by the deal. The federal government, eight states and 13 environmental groups signed off on the agreement with American Electric Power. The Columbus-based company will begin reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions at 16 power plants east of the Mississippi. The emissions will be reduced from about 1 million tons annually to 246,000 tons by 2019, according to the settlement," Kevin Mayhood, Columbus Dispatch.
SAINT CLAIRSVILLE -- AEP reaches settlement pact in clean air case, WTOV.
Dec 10: Judge approves AEP clean-air settlement
SAINT CLAIRESVILLE -- "The largest environmental settlement involving the U.S. government was approved this morning by District Court Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. near several power plants affected by the deal. The federal government, eight states and 13 environmental groups signed off on the agreement with American Electric Power. The Columbus-based company will begin reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions at 16 power plants east of the Mississippi. The emissions will be reduced from about 1 million tons annually to 246,000 tons by 2019, according to the settlement," Kevin Mayhood, Columbus Dispatch.
Dec 3: What's my connection to mountaintop removal?
BOONE, NC -- "Coal-fired power plants around the country are connected to mountaintop removal, a radical form of coal mining in which mountains are literally blown up, devastating communities throughout Appalachia, polluting drinking water and destroying rivers. And the worst part is, you're paying for it. If your home or business is on the electric grid, chances are you are connected to mountaintop removal in the Appalachian Mountains. Find out how -- and then find out what you can do about it," End Mountaintop Removal Action and Resource Center.
Nov 26: Ohio's coal output slips
Production fell 10 percent in 2006; experts think it was an aberration
COLUMBUS -- "Ohio's sulfur-rich coal has long been linked to pollution, including acid rain. Tougher federal air-pollution limits prompted power companies and businesses to burn lower-sulfur coal from other states as a cheaper alternative to scrubbers. That pushed Ohio's coal production down from a 1970 record of 55 million tons. A Dispatch investigation published in December found that as coal production increased, the state lacked the money and manpower to oversee mines and to clean up more than 36,000 acres of abandoned mine lands," Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch. Published November 25.
Nov 19: Round the rotunda
Strickland caught between coal and a hard place
CLEVELAND -- "Pressure and time. Crank up some heat, and that's the basic recipe that nature has followed for millions of years to create the coal beds in Ohio's soil. Those elements were also at play in Milwaukee last week, when Gov. Ted Strickland found himself in a delicate political situation as Midwestern governors gathered to sign a pair of regionwide agreements. The twin pacts are basically agreements among Midwestern states and the Canadian province of Manitoba to reduce greenhouse gases, increase alternative-fuel production and raise renewable energy standards in the distant future," Aaron Marshall, Cleveland Plain Dealer. Published November 17.
Nov 9: $4.6B pollution payout signals major shift
Largest environmental settlement in U.S. history will reduce smog and acid rain across northeast
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Once AEP has fully installed the pollution control equipment required by the settlement, the U.S. estimates that the annual benefits to public health will include approximately $32 billion per year saved in avoided health-related costs associated with respiratory and cardiopulmonary illnesses, including asthma and heart attacks, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice. One study blames power plant pollution for than half a million asthma attacks, 38,000 heart attacks, and 60,000 premature deaths every year," Associated Press, CBS News.
Nov 8: Fueled by coal
China's addiction grows despite safety, environmental concerns
JUNGAR QI, China -- "In Ohio, coal employment is closing in on 3,000 workers, up from 2,500 in 2005, according to the Ohio Coal Association. Perhaps more impressive is the amount of coal mined in the state -- about 26 million tons a year, up from 19 million at the beginning of this decade, the association said. But nowhere is coal bigger than in China. The explosion of coal comes amid rising alarm over its dire consequences for workers and the environment. An average of 13 Chinese miners die every day in explosions, floods, fires and cave-ins. Toxic clouds of mercury and other chemicals from mining and burning coal are poisoning the air and water far beyond China's borders and polluting the food chain," Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press.
PARIS, France -- Why coal is to get additional attention, Neil King Jr. and Spencer Swartz, Wall Street Journal. Subscription required.
Nov 7: Higher levels of pollutants found in fish caught near a coal-fired power plant
PITTSBURGH, PA -- "A new study found higher-than-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-recommended levels of mercury and elevated levels of selenium in channel catfish caught in a rural area upstream of Pittsburgh and downwind from a coal-fired power plant. Both mercury and selenium are well-known contaminants of coal burning for power generation. To complete the study, researchers recruited local anglers to catch channel catfish from the three rivers area of Pittsburgh and from Kittanning, Pa., an area 40 miles upstream of Pittsburgh. The three rivers area includes the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers," Science Daily.
NEW YORK, NY -- Is burning coal a patriotic duty?, Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times.
Nov 1: Coal, power and poison
BOSTICK, SC -- "Coal is the United States' most important source of nonforeign energy. It is relatively cheap and plentiful. More than half of the country's electric power comes from burning coal. But of all the fossil fuels, experts say, coal causes the most air pollution. It fouls the air with soot and gases, and many scientists contend that the burning of fossil fuel is a key contributor to global warming. Burning coal also unlocks mercury in the coal, turning it into a vapor and shooting it up tall smokestacks and into the air. Where this mercury lands has huge implications. Does the wind carry it thousands of miles away, even halfway around the world, thus causing virtually no local problem? Or does much of it come down within a hundred or so miles of the plant?," Tony Bartelme and Doug Pardue, Charleston Post and Courier. Published October 29.
BOSTICK, SC -- The Mercury Connection, We know mercury taints fish. What about people?, Tony Bartelme, Charleston Post and Courier. Published October 29.
Oct 24: Emissions Debate
Ohio won't block plants based on CO2 ruling
COLUMBUS -- "The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency this year has approved one draft permit and is considering a second for two proposed coal-fired power plants in Meigs County. Both would produce millions of tons of carbon dioxide. 'That's just not an approach that we are prepared to take here in Ohio,' Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski said. Ohio, like many other states, uses a 'don't ask, don't tell' carbon-dioxide policy with businesses seeking pollution permits. State and federal governments do not regulate carbon dioxide, which has been tied to global warming," Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch.
Oct 14: The Anatomy of a Clean Air Milestone
COLUMBUS -- "At $4.6 billion for the cleanup, plus $75 million in spare change for penalties and mitigation projects, the Environmental Protection Agency says the consent decree is the largest single environmental settlement in American history. EPA, one of the plaintiffs, estimates that pollution controls will keep more than 800,000 tons of NOX and SOX out of the air. NOX and SOX (that’s nitrogen and sulfur oxides), emitted by coal combustion, are bad actors that fill the air with unhealthy particulate matter, ugly haze, and acid precipitation that harms lakes and forests. EPA estimates that the public health benefits of reducing airborne gunk from the AEP plants will be worth $32 billion in avoided health care costs," Jim DiPeso, The Daily Green.
Better now than never for AEP deal, editorial, Coshocton Tribune.
Pollution settlement good news for region, editorial, Springfield Republican.
Oct 11: State agency sat out AEP suit
Ohio EPA says it was too busy to get involved; other states say politics had role
COLUMBUS -- "When Gov. Bob Taft presented American Electric Power's Muskingum River Plant an award for outstanding pollution-prevention efforts on Oct. 27, 1999, he praised the company for voluntarily cutting waste and emissions. Exactly a week later, the plant was a target of lawsuits filed by eight eastern states, environmental groups and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Muskingum River was among the nation's oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants violating the Clean Air Act, the lawsuit said. For eight years, while the lawsuit proceeded to the record multibillion-dollar settlement announced this week, the Ohio EPA sat on the sidelines. The state had no voice in an agreement that will make Ohio's air cleaner and affect jobs and electricity rates. Why?," Kevin Mayhood, Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch.
EPA joins settlement of lawsuit but adds a waiver, Action against polluting utility is ruled out until 2018, Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
EPA's record settlement with utility could lead to other deals, AEP agreed Tuesday to spend $4.6 billion to install pollution controls on 16 power plants, Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor.
Oct 10: Breathing easier
COLUMBUS -- "Air-pollution reductions that American Electric Power must make at 16 of its coal-fired power plants will save $32 billion a year in health costs, the federal government estimates. To clear the air, Columbus-based AEP already started spending $6.6 billion, including about $2.8 billion in Ohio, the company said yesterday after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a multibillion-dollar settlement in an eight-year dispute. AEP said it already has spent much of the money included in the settlement and has budgeted for the rest. Since January 2006, Ohio customers have paid an extra $2 to $3 per month, part of which pays for the upgrades," Kevin Mayhood, Jonathan Riskind and Paul Wilson, Columbus Dispatch.
Area resident part of win in fight against AEP, Jeremy Lydic, East Liverpool Review.
Oct 9: American Electric Power agrees to record-breaking $4.6 billion clean-up of 16 coal plants to settle Ohio Citizen Action et al v. AEP et al
COLUMBUS -- "Columbus-based American Electric Power (AEP) today agreed to a $4.6 billion clean-up of sixteen coal plants in five states to settle the Ohio Citizen Action et al v. AEP et al lawsuit.
More emission cuts are required under today's agreement than in any other single air pollution settlement in history, according to the U.S. EPA. Under today's settlement, the AEP plants will emit 79% less sulfur dioxide by 2018, and 69% less nitrogen oxides by 2016.
Ohio Citizen Action Executive Director Sandy Buchanan said, 'Citizens of the five states and our downwind neighbors have just won an unprecedented public health victory. We regret that it took eight years and a legal two-by-four to get AEP's attention,'" release, Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action (34 KB doc).
agrees to record settlement, United Press
Jul 25: Block new wave of power plants
LOS ANGELES, CA -- "From coast to coast, plans for a new generation of coal-fired power plants are falling by the wayside as states conclude that conventional coal plants are too dirty to build and the cost of cleaner plants is too high. . .
As recently as May, U.S. power companies had announced intentions to build as many as 150 new generating plants fueled by coal, which currently supplies about half the nation's electricity. One reason for the surge of interest in coal was concern over the higher price of natural gas, which has driven up electricity prices in many places. Coal appeared capable of softening the impact since the U.S. has deep coal reserves and prices are low. But as plans for this fleet of new coal-powered plants move forward, an increasing number are being canceled or development slowed. . .
It's hard to say how many proposed plants will never be built. Some projects suffer public deaths when permits are denied. Many more simply wither away, lost in the multiyear process of obtaining permits, fending off court challenges and garnering financing. In the wake of the fading coal proposals, and others that are expected to follow, Citigroup downgraded the stocks of coal-mining companies last week, noting that 'prophesies of a new wave of coal-fired generation have vaporized,'" Rebecca Smith, Wall Street Journal (no link).
Jul 18: Coal: Missing the window; Downgrading on stubborn stockpiles, hostile politics
NEW YORK, NY -- "Prophesies of a new wave of coal-fired generation have vaporized, while clean coal technologies such as IGCC [Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle] with carbon capture and coal-to-liquids remain a decade away, or more," Citigroup, 507 KNB pdf.
Apr 17: PUCO takes its time learning to meet in public session
COLUMBUS -- "After the nominating council of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio met last week, a consumer advocate said the meeting was 'like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit.' Catherine Turcer of Ohio Citizen Action said the council 'clearly had difficulty' meeting in a session open to the public. In the past, the council made its decisions in private and switched to public meetings only after being called on the carpet by Attorney General Marc Dann, who said the private sessions violated the state’s open meetings law, which requires decisions of public bodies to be made in public," Paul E Kostyu, Canton Repository.
Apr 15: Strickland placates a powerful lobby with PUCO move
CLEVELAND -- "A Strickland spokesman told The Plain Dealer that the governor would leave the PUCO as is because he wants to 'ensure stability and predictability in Ohio's regulatory market.' Or, in plain English, Ohio's new Democratic governor doesn't want to irk one of the Statehouse's most powerful lobbies. In the real world, 'stability and predictability' is Statehouse-ese for 'regulators' who roll over on command, like strive-to-please pooches. That's why Ohio's motto - 'With God, All Things are Possible' - could be re-cast as 'Higher Rates; Deteriorating Service,'" Thomas Suddes, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Apr 11: Strickland takes the high road
CLEVELAND -- "Some utility watchdog groups have offered a more cynical explanation, suggesting that Strickland doesn't want to make waves at PUCO because he's indebted to the utilities - especially the electric power industry. Perhaps time will prove that to be the case. For now, Strickland deserves the benefit of the doubt and credit for doing what's right," editorial, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
LIMA -- Open government. "A representative of the environmental organization Ohio Citizen Action made a public records request to obtain minutes from the nominating council’s Feb. 7 meeting, the Dispatch reported. The minutes showed the group went into closed session to interview 10 candidates and came out to public session to nominate, without any discussion, four people," Lima News.
Apr 10: Utilities board nominees reappointed
3 rejoin Ohio panel and a 4th is selected
COLUMBUS -- "Just days after being told their nominations were illegally decided behind closed doors, three commissioners and one hopeful were swiftly recommended again and reappointed yesterday by Gov. Ted Strickland to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. That left the makeup of the utility regulatory panel exactly as it was before Attorney General Marc Dann pointed out the open-meetings law violations and requested the resignations of the three members last week. The move left some supporters of Mr. Strickland slack-jawed as they saw a rare opportunity slip through their fingers to remake in one fell swoop what they consider to be a regulatory panel prone to side with utilities over consumers. 'Why did this happen over the Easter weekend?' asked Sandy Buchanan of government watchdog Ohio Citizen Action. 'The announcement was made late on Good Friday that they would meet on Easter Monday. It’s a classic PR move when you don’t want people to pay attention during a holiday weekend,' Ms. Buchanan said. 'It’s a cynical process,'" Jim Provance, Toledo Blade .
COLUMBUS -- Out with the old, in with the old at PUCO, Chairman, commissioners reappointed after flap over open-meetings violations, Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch.
COLUMBUS -- More than a charade, editorial, Cincinnati Post.
COLUMBUS -- Governor reappoints utility regulators who resigned, Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press.
COLUMBUS -- PUCO panel's nominees list looks familiar, Mark Rollenhagen, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
COLUMBUS -- PUCO Nominating Council submits recommendations to Gov. Strickland to fill four vacancies, news release, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
Apr 9: Letter to Thomas Green of the PUCO nominating committee
COLUMBUS -- "The only way Governor Strickland could already have made a decision to reappoint these commissioners is if he knew that the PUCO Nominating Council would recommend them to him. How did Governor Strickland know this? There must have been some form of communication between him, directly or indirectly, and you or other members of the Nominating Council. What was it? When did it happen? Who was involved? What was the content of the communication? Were these communications conducted in public?," Catherine Turcer, Ohio Citizen Action.
Strickland has eye on 'stability,' won't bump state utilities board
COLUMBUS -- "Council meeting minutes obtained by the watchdog group Ohio Citizen Action showed that the panel met in executive session in February to narrow down the candidates and then, in public session, voted to destroy the ballots used in the deliberations... Ohio Citizen Action is a frequent critic of PUCO, contending it favors the interests of the large energy, communications and transportation businesses it regulates rather than the interests of consumers," Mark Rollenhagen, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
COLUMBUS -- Operate openly, Correct secret nominating process, but don't change membership of PUCO, editorial, Columbus Dispatch.
Apr 8: PUCO reappointments:
Strickland bows to utilities, abdicates leadership
CLEVELAND -- "Gov. Strickland's promise to reappoint three Taft Public Utilities Commissioners is a remarkable abdication of leadership. He could do more to Turn-Around Ohio by installing new leadership at the PUCO than all his campaign promises put together. It's just that important to Ohio family budgets and to Ohio's business climate. Instead he has decided to let Ohio utilities proceed unregulated by either the market or the government. At the same time, his pre-emptive decision violates the whole purpose of Ohio's sunshine law. It cuts the public out of the process as thoroughly and cynically as the illegal meetings identified by Attorney General Dann," Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action.
COLUMBUS -- Dann fights for Ohioans' right to know, Benjamin Marrison, Columbus Dispatch.
Apr 7: PUCO commissioners won't be replaced, Strickland says
COLUMBUS -- "At the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, they may be singing the refrain from a classic rock song next week: . The song fits. While a special nominating council will meet Monday -- this time in public -- to recommend candidates for four of five spots on the commission, Gov. Ted Strickland remains committed to reappointing the members who resigned yesterday. . . While the process would afford Strickland, a Democrat, the opportunity to restock the PUCO with his own nominees, [Strickland Press Secretary Keith] Dailey said the governor will not do that simply to gain partisan advantage. Strickland has been under pressure from consumer advocates to appoint new members viewed as less utility-friendly. "He intends to reappoint the current commissioners," Dailey said. "The governor believes that just because he has the ability to take advantage of this situation, it doesn't mean he must,'" Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch.
COLUMBUS -- Chairman Schriber and Commissioners Fergus and Lemmie resign from the PUCO, press release, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
COLUMBUS -- Lemmie, others resign but expect to keep jobs, Associated Press.
COLUMBUS -- Three on PUCO offer resignations, Mark Rollenhagen, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
AKRON -- Three on PUCO resign posts, might return; Attorney general alleges their selection process violated law; Governor may reappoint them, Betty Lin-Fisher, Akron Beacon Journal.
WILLOUGHBY -- Dann did right thing with PUCO, editorial, Lake County News-Herald.
Apr 5: Critics want new members at PUCO
3 on utility board review order to quit
COLUMBUS -- "Ohio Citizen Action spokeswoman Catherine Turcer agreed that the agency should be reshaped: 'Why not rethink the whole process? Why not open the process to public comment? This is the right time... What you want to have at the PUCO is accountability to consumers.' Turcer made a public-records request to obtain minutes from the nominating council's Feb. 7 meeting. They showed that the panel went into closed session at 9:30 a.m., interviewed 10 applicants and returned to public session 2½ hours later. At that point, without discussion, the commission voted to recommend four PUCO nominees," Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch.
COLUMBUS -- Three on PUCO should resign, official says; Latest appointee also questionable because of closed-door process, Akron Beacon Journal.
Apr 4: 3 PUCO officials asked to resign
Their nominations violated Sunshine Law, Dann says
COLUMBUS -- "Attorney General Marc Dann has asked three members of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to resign, saying they were illegally nominated in secret. All three were appointed by former Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican; if they leave, Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, could name a majority of the powerful five-member board, which regulates electricity, gas, telephone, water and commercial transportation," Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch.
COLUMBUS -- PUCO seats were filled illegally, Dann says, Mark Rollenhagen, Ohio Citizen Action's investigation:
COLUMBUS -- "Maybe Strickland's hesitation at shaking up the commission is due to an early-term toe-stubber. Less than a month after his inauguration, Ohio Citizen Action's Sandy Buchanan blew the whistle on what she said was a 'wired' deal to name Charles Moses to a PUCO vacancy. Moses, a Democrat, heads the Ohio Telecom Association, a lobby for phone companies. While no one could seriously doubt Moses' integrity and qualifications, Buchanan said Moses' background might tilt the commission even further toward utility viewpoints. Strickland instead appointed Worthington lawyer-economist Paul Centolella to the commission, a choice that drew praise. But that was a whisper of the praise the governor would draw if he emphatically signaled PUCO yes-persons that it's high time for the periodic 'no,'" Thomas Suddes, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Feb 24: New PUCO board member has 25 years in utilities field
COLUMBUS -- "The current consumers' counsel, Janine Migden-Ostrander, who was a staff attorney for the agency in the early 1980s, said she is 'very pleased' with [Paul] Centolella's appointment. 'I worked with Paul many years ago,' she said in an interview. 'He is very bright, independent and fair-minded. I think he will bring a broad perspective, which includes a consumer perspective, to the job,' John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Feb 23: "Gov. Strickland did the right thing by appointing a commissioner without a conflict-of-interest"
COLUMBUS -- Ohio Governor Ted Strickland today appointed Paul Centolella to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director Ohio Citizen Action, issued the following statement:
"Governor Strickland did the right thing by appointing a commissioner without a conflict-of-interest. Now it is time for Governor Strickland and the legislature to fix the broken PUCO Nominating Council to prevent similar utility lobbyist takeovers in the future."
COLUMBUS -- Strickland reappoints Rehabilitation and Corrections Director, names PUCO Commissioner, press release, Office of the Governor.
COLUMBUS -- Consumer advocates praise PUCO appointment. "Ohio Citizen Action Director Sandy Buchanan, who has been critical of commission rulings that she felt favored utilities over consumers, also liked the appointment. 'This is the type of commissioner we need to see,' Buchanan said," John McCarthy, Associated Press.
COLUMBUS -- Strickland appoints Worthington man to PUCO, Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch.
Feb 21: PUCO Nominating Council chair comments on selection process
COLUMBUS -- "I believe [Mr. Moses] would make an outstanding public utilities
commissioner although he may not be given that opportunity due to continued
assaults on him as a 'lobbyist,'" Thomas Green, lobbyist, AT&T and Columbia Gas; Chair, PUCO Nominating Council.
Feb 20: Lobbyist doesn't belong on PUCO, watchdog says
COLUMBUS -- "As a utility lobbyist vies for a seat on the powerful Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, a watchdog group pointed out that utility interests poured $2.7 million into Ohio political races in the past two years. 'They already have quite a bit of influence. Our basic point is the utility lobby should not be deciding on people's electric and phone bills,' said Ohio Citizen Action Executive Director Sandy Buchanan. Citizen Action, a nonpartisan good government and consumer advocate, put out the report Monday. . . Buchanan said the PUCO's pattern of decisions has been to grant what the big utilities want, and it's a conflict of interest for lobbyists to be on the powerful board," Laura Bischoff, Dayton Daily News.
CLEVELAND -- Heckuva job, Alan! Strickland spokesman says the Governor doesn’t intend to replace Alan Schriber as PUCO Chairman. "All of this is very confusing to those of us who listened to candidate Strickland say this in a Meet The Bloggers interview last March: '. . . we need a government and we need a Governor who will have a strong consumer advocacy position, and make sure that the people who are appointed to the PUCO are people who have a track record of being concerned about the needs of the consumer,'" Bill Callahan, Callahan's Cleveland Diary.
Feb 19: Utility interests poured $2.7 million into Ohio politics in 2005 - 2006
Feb 18: Governor: Utilities board pick will signal regulation philosophy
COLUMBUS -- "Critics had hoped that Strickland, the first Democratic governor in 16 years, would change the direction of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which some have viewed as too cozy with - and easy on - utility giants like FirstEnergy Corp., American Electric Power and AT&T. 'He should start over from scratch,' said Sandy Buchanan, executive director of Ohio Citizen Action, a nonprofit consumer and voter advocacy group... Strickland said Citizen Action has every right to complain, but he played down their concerns. 'It's unfortunate when judgments are made about people based on superficial factors. I think individuals should be judged on the totality of their life and work,' he said," John McCarthy, Associated Press.
Feb 13: Spokesman: Governor likely to keep utilities commission chairman
COLUMBUS -- "Strickland's choice is being watched by consumer groups and environmentalists concerned about the campaign support he received from utility companies and the coal mining industry," John McCarthy, Associated Press.
Feb 9: Watchdog:
PUCO nominees tilt to utilities
4 at 5, WCMH-TV Columbus
Anchor: A watchdog
group is taking aim at the Strickland Administration because of recent
nominations. The group, Ohio Citizen Action, says two of the four
people nominated to the Public Utilities Commission are tied to utility
companies. One man, Charles Moses, is a lobbyist for the Ohio
My warning was well-founded. The Council has produced a list which includes Charles Moses, a utility lobbyist, and Gretchen Hummel, a utility attorney.
Of course, any member of the Public Utilities Commission must be knowledgeable about utility issues. But the PUCO must not be allowed to have a revolving door between it and the very industries it regulates.
Moses is rumored to have the inside track on the appointment, due to his relationships with the Strickland Administration. And by all accounts, he is a capable and talented individual. However, as President of the Ohio Telecom Association, he is now the chief lobbyist for the interests of 41 telecommunications providers, 3 wireless providers and over 100 associate member companies. These include ALLTEL, Century Tel, Cincinnati Bell, Horizon Telcom, AT&T, Embarq (Sprint) and Verizon.
Had the Nominating Council not been stacked with utility lobbyists, it likely would not have recommended someone with such an immense conflict-of-interest. Now they have left it up to Governor Strickland to realize that, as a public utilites commissioner, Mr. Moses' every vote would be cast under this cloud.
Fortunately, Governor Strickland has other choices. And in Paul Centolella, he has someone who understands both consumer and business perspectives and would be a balanced choice.
In making this decision, we urge Governor Strickland to remember that Ohio voters are anxious for him to bring integrity back to state government. Surely, he can give Mr. Moses the opportunity to serve the State in another position.
COLUMBUS -- Thomas Green responds to Sandy Buchanan statement on PUCO nominees, email, Thomas Green, lobbyist, AT&T and Columbia Gas; Chair, PUCO Nominating Council.
COLUMBUS -- List for PUCO vacancy narrowed to four, Mark Rollenhagen, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
COLUMBUS -- PUCO candidate list narrowed to four, Alan Johnson, .
Nominating Council submits recommendations to Gov. Strickland,
Feb 7: Nine
names still on list for seat on PUCO
COLUMBUS -- "The leader of the trade group that represents Ohio telephone companies and the state’s first utility watchdog are among nine candidates to be considered for a critical spot on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. A nominating committee will meet today to recommend four of the names to Gov. Ted Strickland, who will make the final decision," Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch.
Feb 6: PUCO Nominating Council picks eight Commissioner candidates to interview
COLUMBUS -- On Monday, February 5, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Nominating Committee chose eight Commissioner candidates to interview from a field of 115 applicants: