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A bad nuclear bailout bill in Ohio is now a whole lot worse. The Senate needs to sink it – or amend it: editorial

A bad nuclear bailout bill in Ohio is now a whole lot worse. The Senate needs to sink it – or amend it: editorial
It’s hard to parse what Ohio legislative leaders were thinking when they exposed their “Ohio Clean Air” nuclear bailout bill for what it really is — a blatant giveaway to nuclear and coal interests.

Last week, a House committee discarded green-energy provisions from House Bill 6. That doubled down on the Ohio ratepayer energy subsidies that would go primarily to benefit the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear plants. And lawmakers then added a new section that could obligate many Ohio ratepayers to subsidize two coal-fired plants, as well.

It’s even harder to figure out what House Speaker Larry Householder must have promised to get 10 Democrats to back the bill after too many Republicans balked at this special-interest giveaway, leaving him far short of the 50 votes he needed for House passage. (He got 53.)

For some, it was a local issue of jobs and taxes. Mentor-on-the-Lake’s John M. Rogers represents large portions of Lake County, where the Perry plant sits; FirstEnergy Solutions has said it will close the plant in 2021 without subsidies.

But also voting yes were Joe Miller of Amherst, whose legislative biography identifies him as “a passionate advocate for … opportunities for green energy,” and freshman Cleveland legislator Terrence Upchurch, whose biography says he went to Columbus to advocate for the neighborhoods he represents, including Glenville.

Just before Wednesday’s House vote, HB 6 was amended by the rules committee, evidently to build in some specific inducements to hesitating lawmakers. Cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer reports the new provisions include one to guarantee “clean air” subsidies to six large solar installations whose construction already was approved by the state power siting board, and amendments capping nuclear subsidies if electricity prices rise and limiting the extent of property-tax devaluations for the two nuclear plants.

Yet none of that can mask what HB 6 has become: a platter of goodies for deep-pocketed special interests who spent liberally — not just in advocating for this legislation but also on Householder’s efforts to get his supporters elected or re-elected to the Ohio House, so they could choose him as speaker.

One of those pals is Ohio House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nino Vitale, a Republican from Urbana in southwest Ohio, who showed his disdain for those who could be hurt by the bill’s elimination of requirements that utilities help customers save on energy use by saying in an email that “a little hunger in the belly or being a little cold on some really cold days” can be a good thing. Ouch.

Vitale also showed his contempt for alternative viewpoints during committee debate on HB 6 by ignoring the Democrats on the committee.

Householder — who named Vitale to the committee chairmanship — excused this misbehavior by suggesting that term limits have kept more seasoned lawmakers from office.

But the reality is that HB 6 is a priority bill for Householder and his team. Whatever it takes to get it across the finish line is likely OK.

It’s now up to the Ohio Senate to guard the state’s interests, not just special interests. At a minimum, as our editorial board previously urged, senators should make this bad bill better, by preserving the state’s green-energy and energy-efficiency mandates and by eliminating Ohio’s unreasonable wind-energy setback rules.

About our editorials: Editorials express the view of the editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer — the senior leadership and editorial-writing staff. As is traditional, editorials are unsigned and intended to be seen as the voice of the news organization.

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FirstEnergy Solutions plans to shut down the Perry nuclear power plant in 2021 if it doesn't get a subsidy to run it from Ohio taxpayers. The Ohio House has been most happy to oblige, writes the editorial board.

FirstEnergy Solutions plans to shut down the Perry nuclear power plant in 2021 if it doesn’t get a subsidy to run it from Ohio taxpayers. The Ohio House has been most happy to oblige, writes the editorial board.

Source:  Cleveland.com

By: Editorial

LINK:  https://www.cleveland.com/opinion/2019/05/a-bad-nuclear-bailout-bill-in-ohio-is-now-a-whole-lot-worse-the-senate-needs-to-sink-it-or-amend-it-editorial.ht

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Opinion
Letter: Bill will hinder clean energy development

I am appalled, but not surprised, that House Bill 6 passed. The so-called Ohio Clean Air Program will provide us with nothing of the sort, and will make it more expensive and difficult for the state to develop the clean renewable energy we need for the future. How can our politicians who voted for this corporate bailout live with their hypocrisy?

House Bill 6 will prop up aging nuclear power plants that parent company FirstEnergy does not want to support. FirstEnergy Solutions claims that it cannot afford to keep the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants open, but someone has enough money to run millions of dollars’ worth of misleading television and radio ads to support HB 6. Even worse, this bill gives money to support dirty coal-fired power plants, one of which is located out of state. Why should Ohio utility customers be supporting an Indiana plant?

As a homeowner with rooftop solar panels, I am a true producer of clean energy. My panels do not emit carbon dioxide or any other gas, nor do they produce radioactive nuclear waste that must be safely stored for hundreds of years at great expense.

Supporters of HB 6 like to say that our utility bills will go down if this becomes law. That is because the bill does away with two items on one’s electric bill — the renewable program and the energy efficiency program. These two standards have driven a lot of the clean energy investment in the state.

The Ohio clean air bill will tack on 50 cents per month to every residential bill, with the amount increasing to $1 a month in 2021. This is not a cost savings for me nor others who are actually producing clean energy.

Carol Miller, Newark

6/2/2019

LINK:  https://www.dispatch.com/opinion/20190602/letter-bill-will-hinder-clean-energy-development?fbclid=IwAR0Iwky7ysRavYUhlX0QuRMDuSa0jE8R4ObKw2cEfWRC4bRPLd05C9cFcH4

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