A new group calling itself the “Ohio Consumers Power Alliance” has formed in response to House Bill 6, a controversial piece of legislation that many consider being a bailout of FirstEnergy’s two Ohio-based nuclear plants.
Under House Bill 6, the state would effectively subsidize the plants with taxpayer dollars through a new “Ohio Clean Air Program.”
“The mission of the Ohio Consumers Power Alliance is to educate and mobilize our state’s energy consumers around opportunities to diversify Ohio’s energy portfolio and keep rates low,” Rachael Belz, director of the Ohio Consumers Power Alliance, said in a statement.
She called House Bill 6 a “creative approach used to blatantly disguise a consumer-funded bailout of two old, uneconomical nuclear plants as a comprehensive energy policy.”
“Our members remains staunchly opposed to rewarding FirstEnergy’s bad business decisions by allowing them to dig deep into the pockets of Ohio ratepayers to cover the bill with no end in sight,” Belz said. “We also remain deeply disappointed in our leaders for continuing to reject energy innovation and job growth while keeping Ohio firmly planted in the dark ages of the status quo.”
Belz was one of many opponents to testify against the bill, which has managed to attract bipartisan opposition.
“I am standing here today representing the Ohio consumer, a voice that is often mentioned but rarely heard in Ohio’s energy debate,” she said during her testimony. “We know our fight against FirstEnergy’s multiple attempts to saddle Ohio ratepayers with higher electric bills is a bit of a David and Goliath-scale battle.”
She noted that the bill hasn’t received the support of “any other sector you say will benefit from this bill—no support from coal, natural gas, wind, solar, hydropower, or energy efficiency.”
“Their absence was noticeable and should have you asking the question as to why a bill you say is not a bailout is only supported by those who want a bailout,” Belz added.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Consumers Power Alliance has started running radio ads against key sponsors of House Bill 6, such as Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro) and Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk).
“Rep. Shane Wilkin is sponsoring a tax increase to hardworking Ohioans in order to bail out old nuclear plants,” one of the ads states. “Rep. Wilkin believes in bailing out a bankrupt company at your expense. He’d rather bail out Wall Street investors than protect his community. You didn’t elect him to raise taxes. Tell him no on House Bill 6.”
The group is also running a digital billboard against House Bill 6 in downtown Columbus.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Ohio Citizen Action Billboard” by Ohio Citizen Action.