The electric industry consists of three main components: generation, transmission and distribution. Senate Bill 3, passed by the Ohio General Assembly in 1999, allows Ohioans to choose the company that generates their electricity. This program is commonly referred to as electric choice. Generation providers are competitive entities certified by the PUCO, but are not fully regulated. Transmission and distribution companies, on the other hand, continue to be fully regulated entities and fall under PUCO and federal jurisdiction.
Most of the electricity generated in Ohio comes from coal-burning and nuclear facilities near Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Both types of power plants use steam-driven turbines to generate electrical current. The difference between coal-fired plants and nuclear plants is the energy source that is used to transform the water into steam.
Once electricity has been generated, it travels through transmission lines atop tall metal towers that criss-cross the country. These transmission lines connect cities and regions to form a power grid. High volumes of electricity are transmitted through the grid to local electric company substations where the electricity is prepared for distribution to customers. The PUCO works hard to enhance the reliability of electric service within Ohio’s borders. The PUCO has testified before U.S. and Ohio House and Senate committees advocating for the creation of mandatory electric transmission reliability rules. The PUCO also regularly advocates before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on a number of issues, including the operation and expansion of the electric transmission grid and regional transmission organizations.
After electricity reaches the local electric company’s substations, its voltage is reduced so that it may be distributed to local customers. Distribution lines mounted on utility poles or buried underground are used to deliver electricity to homes and businesses.
The Ohio Biomass Energy Program
The Ohio Biomass Energy Program (OBEP), housed within the PUCO, works to increase the development and utilization of biomass energy resources in Ohio in order to promote energy sustainability and a cleaner environment. The environmental benefits of renewable biomass resources include reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants and landfill wastes, as well as efficient use of municipal, industrial and farm wastes.