In regard to the Jan. 13 editorial headlined “Power failure,” the wind and solar developers who supported Ohio’s energy portfolio mandates and using hidden taxes in utility bills to fund their pet projects have been quick to attack anyone who suggests they may have gone too far.

That attack came to Ohio recently when the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio ruled against a proposal that would have imposed a $357 million “tax” on American Electric Power customers to subsidize a 49.5 megawatt solar project called Turning Point.

Based on the evidence, the PUCO ruled that forcing customers to pay for Turning Point was not necessary in view of the fact that sufficient supplies of solar-generated electricity were readily available in Ohio.

Following the decision, party officials, the “mandaters” and some newspapers attacked the PUCO’s decision.

Though predictable, their attack is short-sighted and fails to bring much needed attention to the anti-competitive, anti-solar and anti-consumer effects of Turning Point.

The claim that Turning Point is needed to satisfy the solar mandates assumed that without Turning Point there would not be enough solar electricity production in Ohio.

The reality is very different. Thanks to the voluntary efforts of hundreds of residential, commercial and industrial customers throughout Ohio, there is plenty of solar electricity production in Ohio without Turning Point.

In 2012 alone, voluntary choices by hundreds of Ohio citizens have produced over 33 megawatts of new solar electricity generating projects, which have been certified by the PUCO as renewable energy resources. Each megawatt hour from these consumer-driven solar facilities yields a solar renewable energy certificate (SREC), which can be sold to help cover a portion of the cost.

As a supporter of Turning Point recently acknowledged, Turning Point would mean that the “SREC prices will almost certainly plunge to ‘junk’ status once the project is complete which will hurt solar developers …” elsewhere.

The PUCO’s approval is not required to build Turning Point. The proponents of the project could have moved forward in October 2010 when it was announced. They claim that Turning Point can stand on its own in the competitive market without the benefit of a new consumer tax. Yet they continue to attack the PUCO for not helping them raise electric bills so that Turning Point’s developers don’t have to obtain funding support the old-fashioned way — by earning it.

Solar investment is alive and well in Ohio thanks to the “customer choice” structure of Ohio law that includes “net metering” and streamlined interconnection rules.

As the PUCO found, Turning Point is not needed. And, had the PUCO found otherwise, it would have hurt consumers and the hundreds of Ohioans who were investing in solar while Turning Point’s proponents were pushing for more government mandates and more hidden taxes in utility bills.

Sam Randazzo


Editor’s note: Randazzo is legal counsel for the Industrial Energy Users - Ohio, an association of large industrial energy consumers.

End the limit ?on the payroll tax

The payroll taxable limit of $113,700 is ludicrous, considering the numbers of earners who make millions yet pay the same rate as those making far less.

This limit should be eliminated. Why should those whose income is higher, much higher, pay less toward running our country than those in lower brackets?

Would it affect their living standard if the limit were gone? I doubt it. They would have to spend the same for necessities and would most likely spend the same for anything beyond that.

I don’t know how much this would decrease our annual deficit, but it would help to fairly equalize the sharing of our economic woes.

Elliott Berenson


Missing the ?big picture

On Page One of the Beacon Journal on Jan. 19, the lead story was that college enrollment is shrinking, due to the population decline.

Then on page D1, a story appeared saying that a firm wants to buy property from the newspaper to put up more student housing in Akron (“Beacon Journal might sell parcel for student housing”).

This makes no sense.

Granted, the student housing is eye appealing and helps the look of our aging downtown area.

But what happens when there are not enough students to fill these apartments?

I’m assuming that students will opt for housing on campus first before going off campus as the enrollment declines. So then downtown Akron is filled with pleasant-looking empty apartment buildings.

Perhaps they will be sold for low-income housing. Not a good idea. I don’t think we want our downtown area filled with low-income housing. (Don’t get me wrong, I work for a low-income housing provider; I’m not knocking my employer, we just don’t need to have more low-income housing in our downtown area.)

Everyone is complaining that there is nothing to bring people downtown after business hours on a normal day.

Sure, there are the Lock 3 events, which are wonderful, and the baseball games at Canal Park. But these are not enough to get people downtown regularly, and having low-income housing downtown will not help this cause.

Developers need to look at the big picture here and not spend money for something that will sit empty in the next 10 years or so.

Charlene Gillam


Standing with ?Hobby Lobby

I absolutely support Hobby Lobby in their decision to not support abortion (“Hobby Lobby defies morning-after pill order,” Jan. 1).

The morning after pill is not a contraceptive.

The government does not have the right to force individuals or companies to support murder.

Ralph B. McNerney