environment

Flipping the light switch

Emissions admissions

There is a lot of discussion taking place on what to do about carbon emissions. In fact, Congress is actively considering proposals that would require dramatic reductions from the electric power sector over the next 10 years.

Since 2005, carbon emissions from U.S. electricity production have been reduced by more than 30%, while other sources of emissions in the U.S. have remained relatively unchanged — and global emissions have continued to increase. That dramatic reduction has been the result of increased use of high-efficiency natural gas power plants and increasing contributions from renewable sources like wind and solar. Electricity production will continue to get cleaner and greener over the next several years.

Harnessing the sun

Buckeye Power, the generation and transmission cooperative that provides electricity to Ohio’s 24 electric cooperatives, produces safe, affordable, and reliable power using an all-of-the-above generation strategy. 

Each potential generating resource — coal plants, solar panels, hydropower facilities, etc. — produces power at a different level of reliability, environmental impact, and cost, so the trick is to balance each factor in the generation mix to produce electricity in the safest, cleanest, most economical, and most reliable way possible. 

That’s already a complicated task, because some of those factors tend to be at odds with one another. In recent times, another factor has added another twist to those generation decisions: consumer attitudes. 

Solar panels

Sunny side up

As summer has ended and autumn is upon us, your electric cooperatives are making plans for next year.

In 2017, Ohio’s electric cooperative network launched the OurSolar statewide initiative that developed 23 community solar projects across the state. In total, the arrays can provide up to 2 megawatts of renewable energy, under ideal conditions. Consumer-member response to the new community-based solar farms and solar power subscription opportunities was clearly supportive. Panels available for subscription at many participating co-ops sold out almost immediately. 

Cleaner coal

Cleaner coal

Years ago, if you drove past Cardinal Power Plant, you likely saw a gray cloud emerging from the towers — that color was caused by fly ash and a few other various byproducts of burning coal. 

Located along the Ohio River in Brilliant, Ohio, Cardinal is Buckeye Power’s baseload source for power generation, meaning it supplies Ohio’s 25 electric cooperatives with electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s also a main economic driver in the region, providing more than 300 jobs. The coal-fired plant consists of three units: one owned by AEP and two owned by Buckeye Power. All are managed by Buckeye Power. 

It's simple?

We’ve all heard some form of the notion that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can set in motion a chain of events that causes a hurricane in China. It’s a way to express how complex systems like our weather or the environment are tied together by complex relationships that are difficult to recognize or understand.

A forest with a river running through it.

Good stewards

Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives was gratified to see the Environmental Protection Agency finalize its work on the Affordable Clean Energy rule to further reduce carbon dioxide emissions, replacing earlier proposals with more sensible regulations.

Electric cooperatives have long been not only willing, but eager, to be good stewards of the environment. Our seventh cooperative principle, “Concern for Community,” certainly extends to the land we work, our water supply, and the air we breathe.

Cardinal Plant Manager Bethany Schunn and Sustainability Lead Julie Jones smile together for a picture.

Fulfilling our mission

Part of the process of removing sulfur dioxide (SO2) from emissions at the Cardinal Power Plant involves the use of limestone. The process is complicated and can be messy, and when heavy deposits build up in the scrubber, the entire generating unit must come offline.

An employee at the plant suggested adding a chemical to the process that not only would allow for less limestone to be used, it would reduce those deposits in the scrubber — meaning lower maintenance time and cost.

Three men look into the water from a boat near Middle Bass Island.

Scientist captains

It’s no secret that Lake Erie’s recent algae blooms have a small army of scientists and conservationists working nonstop to remedy its troubles. But a little-known faction has been feeding valuable data to those problem-solvers: charter captains.

“We first started with the Ohio EPA,” says Dave Spangler, longtime captain and vice president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (LECBA). The EPA, he says, sent lab technicians wading near shore to collect samples. “The better part of the Western Basin just wasn’t getting covered,” he says.

Nancy Stranahan, co-founder and director of Arc of Appalachia smiles for a photo in a forest

Arc of Appalachia: Mission to preserve

Ask Nancy Stranahan, “What’s the point of preserving plain old woods?” and you’re certain to get an earful.

“I’d say guilty as charged, except for the word ‘plain,'” Stranahan says, explaining that southern Ohio’s hardwood forests are the last best chance to save an ecosystem that has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. “The fact that 100,000 multicellular native organisms are at stake takes ‘plain’ out of the discussion.”