Power Lines Blog

Find it here: Innovation in Ohio


On September 26-27, I went to the Annual Meeting of American Municipal Power in Columbus, Ohio. AMP is a large (and growing!) joint action agency — while it got its start in Ohio (the state whose slogan is “Find It Here”), it now has 135 members in 9 states. Every time I go to visit, I am reminded why AMP is growing.

AMP offers a wide array of services to its members, from power supply (it is an “a la carte” rather than a full requirements supplier, so it has a wide array of power supply projects with different participants), to training, energy efficiency services, community economic development, demand response management, distributed generation — I could go on, but you get the idea.

Marc Gerken, AMP’s dynamic CEO, started off the day with a presentation summarizing where AMP is today, and where it is going. He discussed AMP’s ongoing efforts to reduce reliance on purchased power and diversify its resources, which has yielded a diverse portfolio with natural gas, landfill gas, wind, run of the river hydro, new efficient coal, and most recently, solar generation. He also discussed the increasing costs for wholesale transmission services that AMP is facing and the steps it is taking to address this issue.

After I spoke on APPA’s strategic plan initiatives, Mike Zenker of NextEra Resources talked about trends in oil and natural gas prices, supply projections, and their impact on wholesale power prices. His message — fracking has produced plentiful natural gas supplies and low prices, and barring some event that impacts the fracking boom, these conditions will continue.

Then Marc Gerken moderated a panel with Julia Hamm of the Smart Energy Power Alliance and Rob Morgan of RES Americas about the growing impact of solar power and the coming combination of solar and energy storage. One public power utility pioneering the combination of solar and storage is an AMP member, the Village of Minster, Ohio. You can read about this project on Minster’s website as well as in Public Power Daily.

While I had to head back to the airport, I did stop by the display for AMP’s Efficiency Smart program. This is a great program that AMP offers for its members, which allows them to work in their community on energy efficiency efforts with their industrial, commercial, and residential customers. I have blogged about this program before, because of the great testimonials that AMP member communities in the program have given, attesting to its value.

I got treated to a quick affirmation of the program’s worth right there in the hallway by Bruce Metz, village administrator for the Village of Jackson Center, Ohio. He told me how his village has greatly exceeded its energy efficiency goals! Jackson Center is where Airstream trailers are made — you know, the “silver bullet” trailers. I looked online and found out you can take a factory tour. They say they really do put all those rivets in by hand!

AMP partners with Vermont Energy Investment Corporation on the Efficiency Smart program, and they are making some beautiful music together. I talked with Everett Woodel, Jr., who is taking over as the primary VEIC point of contact for this program, and director of Efficiency Smart.

I wish I could have stayed longer to catch up with more AMP utility members, and the crack AMP staff — I enjoy hanging out with Marc, Jolene Thompson, Pam Sullivan, John Bentine, Lisa McAlister, Ed Tatum — I could go on and on. But sadly I had to speak and run, so I could get back to the office to prepare for APPA’s own upcoming board meeting. Maybe next time.

Sue Kelly

Sue Kelly

President and CEO