November 26 (Renewables Now) - The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has rejected a request by the Ohio unit of US utility American Electric Power Company Inc (NYSE:AEP) to use a non-bypassable customer charges to support two solar power projects totalling 400 MW.
PUCO said in a statement last week that it rejected the proposal on the grounds that AEP did not demonstrated the need for the solar power facilities, noting the utility's analysis had a number of deficiencies. PUCO added that AEP Ohio's customers still have the right to willingly pay the rates that the utility wanted to impose on them. The solar projects, which could still be developed, are also eligible for financial support from the Renewable Energy Fund, PUCO said.
AEP Ohio filed with the regulator its proposal to support the development of the two photovoltaic (PV) projects in September 2018. The two projects are Hecate Energy Highland LLC’s 300-MW Highland Solar project and a 100-MW solar plant developed by Willowbrook Solar LLC, both of which had been awarded power purchase agreements (PPAs) by AEP Ohio. The two solar farms, to be developed in the Appalachian region in Highland County, were expected to be operational by the end of 2021, pending regulatory approvals.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, in spite of PUCO's decision, the solar projects could still be executed, but AEP would need to secure contracts with cities, corporations or other big buyers of the power from the solar farms.