Ohio lawmakers set to vote on energy bill that increases electric fees

Ohio lawmakers set to vote on energy bill that increases electric fees

If House Bill 6 becomes law, Ohio consumers would pay $1.3 billion over six years in new surcharges on their electric bills, according to state Rep. Jamie Callender, R-Concord, co-sponsor of the legislation.

The money would be made available as subsidies for two nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions and two coal-fired plants owned by Ohio Valley Electric Corp., including one in Indiana.

Related: Big money pushes for energy bill; consumer groups oppose it

A new report from economist Paul Sotkiewicz of E-Cubed Policy Associates argues that the nuclear power plants are profitable and don’t need a government bailout.

“The bottom line is Ohio nuclear resources are profitable on an operating basis and have no incentives to retire for the foreseeable future therefore there is no need for additional out-of-market financial support,” said Sotkiewicz, formerly an economist for PJM Interconnection.

FirstEnergy Solutions, a spin-off of Akron-based FirstEnergy, last year filed for bankruptcy protection and announced plans to shut the two nuclear plants, unless it gets government subsidies.

HB6 is opposed by the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, which represents residential utility customers, AARP Ohio, and a host of environmental groups. The legislation seeks to wipe out existing renewable energy and energy efficiency standards that have been in place since 2008.

The legislation gained support from DP&L and other utilities after lawmakers changed it to add subsidies for the OVEC plants.

Related: DP&L endorses nuclear bailout bill

The Ohio Valley Electric Corp. is a cooperative corporation which includes Ohio utilities DP&L, AEP, Duke, and FirstEnergy Solutions, and others.

Generation Now, a dark money group, has paid out more than $2.7 million for television, radio and online ads in favor of HB6. Opponents have poured $300,000 into ads against the bill.

Related: Battle over energy bill includes $3M in ads to sway public

Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.