Judge halts Energy Harbor nuclear subsidies

December 23, 2020, 9:32AMNuclear News

An Ohio court has granted a preliminary injunction that blocks Energy Harbor from receiving the “nuclear generation fund” payments that were set to begin January 1 as part of H.B. 6—the scandal-tainted legislation at the center of an alleged multi-million dollar racketeering and corruption scheme aimed at guaranteeing its passage.

Signed into law by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in July 2019, H.B. 6 established a seven-year program to charge the state’s electricity consumers fees to support payments of about $150 million annually to Energy Harbor, which had announced in March of the previous year that it would be forced to close the financially strapped Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants without some form of support from the state.

The ruling: On December 21, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Chris Brown granted the injunction, in response to lawsuits filed earlier this year by Ohio Attorney General David Yost and attorneys for the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati. According to Brown, his ruling was influenced by the inability of Ohio lawmakers to make meaningful progress on an H.B. 6 remedy—specifically, a straight repeal of the law, or its repeal and replacement—during the current legislative session, which is nearing its end.

“To not impose an injunction would be to allow certain parties to prevail,” Brown said from the bench. “It would give the OK that bribery is allowed in the state of Ohio and that any ill-gotten gains can be received. All you’ve got to do is find the right legislator, find the right speaker of the House. It is in the public interest to avoid that sentiment throughout the state.”

Reaction: “Today’s ruling proves that the powerful can be held accountable and that corruption will be rooted out,” Yost said. “Everybody who pays an electric bill, whether for their own home or a job-sustaining manufacturer, is the winner today. Your pocket will not be picked.”

A similar declaration of victory came from Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, who said, “Today’s ruling is a win for all Ohioans. H.B. 6 was passed through deceit, deception, and corruption and this decision means that Ohio ratepayers will keep their hard-earned dollars instead of paying for a massive corporate bailout. We look forward to this case moving forward and we urge the legislature to do the right thing and repeal this law.”

Calls to Energy Harbor for comment were not returned by press time.

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