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Published: Wednesday, 8/10/2011

PUCO allows FirstEnergy to miss solar requirement


COLUMBUS -- FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron, parent company of Toledo Edison, which serves most of Toledo and other parts of northwest Ohio, has been excused from complying with the state requirement for solar energy credits and production for the second year, provided it gets into compliance this year.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio stated in a new order that the utility will be granted a waiver for failing to meet its 2010 obligation "contingent upon FirstEnergy meeting its revised 2011 [solar energy resources] benchmark, which shall be increased to include the shortfall for the 2010 SER benchmark, including any shortfall carried over from the Company's 2009 SER benchmark."

The utility also got a waiver for 2009, the program's first year.

Failure to comply can lead to penalties of $1.2 million or more.

Under Senate Bill 221, which legislators adopted in 2008, utilities doing business in Ohio in 2025 must produce or get at least 12.5 percent of the electricity they distribute from clean, renewable sources. That includes a solar requirement of 0.5 percent, but annual benchmarks along the way must also be met.

Toledo Councilman Joe McNamara called for a public rebuke of FirstEnergy earlier this year after learning the utility had filed for a waiver again.

The councilman said FirstEnergy's failure to produce or invest in solar was costing Toledo jobs, given the area's interest in solar research and development.

FirstEnergy has said it doesn't want to produce solar power and told state regulators it couldn't find enough investment credits to purchase from solar developers in 2009 or 2010.

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