First Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of First Energy, told legislators that June 30 was their deadline for getting House Bill 6 passed. The company insists it will need time to purchase fuel rods and after June it will be too late. They are threatening to close the Davis-Besse nuclear plant and put more than 600 people out of work if the Legislature does not pass the bill within their time frame.
Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) has repeatedly told reporters he will not pass legislation based on “an arbitrary date”.
The original bill, considered a bailout by some legislators and organizations, has been substantially changed in the Senate. As of Friday, the rumor was the House would not accept the changes while the Senate is scheduled to work through the weekend.
Differences in the bill include:
- The House eliminated subsidies for wind and solar; the Senate restored them, albeit at a lower rate with a sunset in 2026.
- The House version added language allowing for Townships to submit a referendum to approve or reject wind farms by a vote of the people. The Senate version eliminates it.
- The House provides subsidies/credits for nuclear facilities. The Senate credits are lower.
- The House requires an annual audit by a third party but does not provide for credits to be lowered if the audit finds them too high or no longer necessary. The Senate requires nuclear facilities to be audited by the PUCO and to lower or eliminate them if the rate is too high or unnecessary.
- House costs for residential customers total $66 over the six year period (fifty cents a month for the first year and $1.00 a month for the remaining five). Senate costs to residential customers over the six year period equal $57.60 at 80 cents a month.
Jon Morrow, a senior policy consultant with eGeneration Foundation, who testified as an “interested party” in both House and Senate committees, does not support the Senate changes. Morrow announced his concerns in a Facebook video:
American Electric Power (AEP), once an “interested party” changed to an “opponent” of the Senate version. Tom Froehle, vice president of external affairs for AEP, testified that the Senate changes “provide uncertainty for our customers and OVEC’s (Ohio Valley Electric Corporation) 345 Ohio employees.”
“HB 6 has been, and will continue to be, a bailout and bad policy,” The Buckeye Institute‘s Greg Lawson told The Ohio Star. “The Senate has made some improvements by lowering the costs of surcharges and a more robust audit process, but unwisely retained a modified renewable mandate. On balance, the Senate may have made a bad bill somewhat less bad, but as long as it is a bailout, it will remain bad overall policy.”
The likelihood of moving House Bill 6 by the June 30 deadline looks slim. The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee met briefly late Saturday afternoon, considering only two of 57 amendments, and then recessed.
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