Athens Energy Institute

Come meet other forward thinking people at the next Athens Energy Institute’s seminar on


Thursday, June 29 from  5:30 to 7:00 pm

at ACEnet (94 Columbus Road, Athens, OH).


Members of the Athens Energy Institute’s Seminar Series will study and discuss critical legal and regulatory issues affecting community energy development in Ohio and elsewhere. The overarching purpose of the Seminar Series is to help citizens understand energy democracy and the transition to a just energy economy.

Other topics of study will include utility regulations and grid systems, net metering for homes and businesses with solar power, and battery options available today and in the near future.

Completion of the seminar series will earn participants a certificate from Upgrade Athens County as well as valuable knowledge about the future of our energy economy.

Area residents are also welcome to participate in the PRO STAFF series of Community Energy Forums planned for 2016. Each forum will involve a speaker and then breakout groups for discussion and further study.


Agenda: For this seminar we will pick up our consideration of the Economics of Battery Storage which we did not get to in the last seminar. We will note the Maryland is leading the way by granting a 30% energy storage tax credit and then look at how to correctly size battery banks. Finally we will delve more deeply into RMI’s Economics of Energy Storage. If we have time, we will turn our attention to an update from Paul Fenn, which he recently publiched on his Local Power blog.

  • Meeting #1: An Introduction to the Athens Energy Institute and the Seminar Series (CLICK HERE)
  • Meeting #2: “Beyond Utility 2.0 to Energy Democracy.” Overview (PDF: Beyond Utility 2.0 to Energy Democracy)
  • Meeting # 3: “Beyond Utility 2.0 to Energy Democracy” (Pages 1-29) (Refer to PDF above)
  • Meeting #4: “Beyond Utility 2.0 to Energy Democracy.  “The Future” (pages 41-50)
  • Meeting #5: Conclusion of “Beyond Utility”, AEP/FirstEnergy “PPAs” (bailouts) , defining Community Solar
  • Other meeting topics available upon request 


For more information, contact Charlene Suggs:
 or 740-416-6194.LOGO-Athens-Energy-Institute-lowres

The Seminar Series and the Community Energy Forums of the Athens Energy Institute are funded by a grant from the Sugarbush Foundation and sponsored by the Center for the Creation of Cooperation.
  • Charlene Suggs, Athens Energy Institute Director
  • Roger Wilkens, Ph.D., Executive Director Center for the Creation of Cooperation
  • Wenda Sheard, J.D., Ph.D., Co-Chair of the Energy Education Committee (UpGrade Athens County)


News Briefs for optional viewing and reading –

February 09, 2017:

Over the past several months we have drawn upon conceptual models and pilot projects in the US and around the world to develop a structural model of a community-based Virtual Power Plant (VPP). In this model Distribute Energy Resources (DERs) are aggregated by an Independent Local Grid manager (in the ILSR model) and supplied to consumers or to the grid. At scale, a VPP could supplant a conventional coal-fired power plant. In our region, SOPEC, as COG, or a regional cooperative could play the role of the Aggregator.

Reviewing the best examples, we saw that the operation of a VPP relies on good Broadband (BB) Internet. Consequently, we looked at Chattanooga as an exemplary community Broadband/Renewable Energy Hub and realized that our region, especially outside Athens needs, much better Internet.

We then turned our attention to the rapidly changing economics of Battery Storage. Driven by the growth of Electric Vehicles (EV) the price of batteries are dropping quickly, making EVs more affordable and beginning to supply reasonably priced home storage systems, both for backup when the grid goes down and as part of smart systems. With the growth of smart home storage systems, we are starting to see the possibility of 2-way grid transactions in which stored power is supplied to the grid at critical moments.

While we explored the near future possibilities of a BB-supported VPP managing local DERs and smart home storage, the election shocked us and we stepped back to examine the how the trends we have been studying could withstand the changing political winds. In doing so, we looked both at short-term analyses and the broader framework of change in the energy sector. Most of what we examined assured us that the dynamic of change would continue, primarily because the energy sector is in the early stages of a “Clean Disruption”. Tony Seba best describes the Clean Disruption as being driven by information technologies with declining marginal costs in competition with resource-based systems with increasing marginal costs. Declining marginal cost systems always win, usually abruptly as in the rise of the Internet or the ascendance of digital photography and host of other examples.

We then drilled down deeper to examine the emerging “operating system” that undergirds both pilot VPPs and peer-to-peer (P2P) community energy trading experiments — Blockchain systems. The growing possibility of wide-spread DERS with smart home storage, linked by fast Internet running Blockchain-based secure energy transactions is beginning to give us a more detailed image of what a truly Transactive Grid might look like and how it might operate. With adequate planning, a Transactive Grid could support widespread local ownership and control of Distributed Energy Resources. In short, it could be the foundation for solar-powered Energy Democracy in our region.

This week we are going to step back and compare our evolving conception of the energy transition with a couple of very highly regarded sources:
· 10 Trends shaping the electric utility industry in 2017 from Utility Dive
· Eight areas of electricity innovation to watch in 2017 from Rocky Mountain Institute

December 15th, 2016:

First, we will get a longer view (15 years) from Tony Seba, whose book, Clean Disruption,most clearly lays out the driving force of the clean energy transition. In the piece entitled “It’s the end of energy . . .”, Tony declares: Within just 15 years conventional energy production and transport will have been rendered obsolete by the revolution taking place in batteries, solar power and electric cars. 

We will follow this essay with a closer look at the pivotal role of batteries as they emerge to add a critical piece of the transition puzzle in the article “Batteries, the secret sauce . . .”  In the article, John Atkinson calls batteries the secret sauce: while the virtues of battery storage are subtle, their impacts will help accelerate the transformation of our energy system at every level. In a sense, you could say that storage is the “secret sauce” for clean energy— it makes everything better!

Drawing closer to present time we will look at AEP’s limited, somewhat self-serving, vision of the next few years in a piece entitled AEP increases proposed rates to add tech features, like charging stations that appeared in the Columbus Dispatch.

Finally, we will turn to the impending chaos by looking at a memo from Trump’s energy transition leader, from Utility Dive, a trusted source for us over the past year.