The panel of state regulators that reviews utility rates will soon have a new leader who has a history of opposing renewable energy issues. This is causing concerns for supporters of a proposed solar farm from AEP.
Sam Randazzo’s appointment to chair the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio sent up red flags to supporters of AEP’s 400 megawatt solar farm.
Randazzo’s former group, Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, is against the proposal.
AEP Ohio Vice President Marc Reitter says Randazzo is smart and experienced, and Reitter hopes he gives their proposal a fair shot.
“He’ll evaluate the record and I think he’ll find that these projects offer economic hope to a part of the state that I think has been left behind. And I think he’ll find merit in that,” says Reitter.
AEP says there’s a need for this solar farm in Highland County based on fuel diversity, carbon reduction, and economic development for Appalachia.
Other groups, including the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel, have opposed the proposal saying it does not meet the requirements to satisfy a "need." In that past, "need" has been primarily based on energy supply. However, the PUCO has recently been open to a broader definition.