Ohio Senators have unanimously approved a bill that strips out a key provision of the sweeping energy law that’s at the center of a federal corruption scandal.
The bill from two Republican state senators erases the billion dollars in fees over the next decade that all Ohio electric ratepayers would pay to subsidize Ohio’s two nuclear power plants.
Two court orders have put collection of those fees on hold. But Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) said in debate on the House floor that recent federal actions on nuclear power mean the plants are unlikely to be shut down, sparing their employees and their communities.
“We are now confident these goals will be protected going forward with the added benefit of a reduction in rate for homeowners and businesses around the state of Ohio," Rulli said.
The plants’ owner Energy Harbor is out of bankruptcy and says it’s strong enough not to need the subsidies.
The bill does keep the $20 million in subsidies to solar projects.
House Bill 6 created the $150 million in annual subsidies for the Davis-Besse and Perry power plants by instituting an $0.85 charge on their monthly bills. It also permitted utilities to charge ratepayers up to $1.50 a month to subsidize the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation’s two struggling coal plants, both built in the 50’s, one in southeast Ohio, the other in Indiana.
It also gutted the mandate that utilities get 12.5% of their power from renewable resources by 2025. And it ended required energy efficiency programs run by utilities, which supporters say saved ratepayers $5 billion over the last ten years.
Federal prosecutors say House Bill 6 is the centerpiece of a $60 million pay-to-play scheme involving Republican former speaker Larry Householder, four other people, a dark money group and a utility widely believed to be FirstEnergy.