After months of unsuccessful efforts by Ohio lawmakers to contend with the fallout from H.B. 6—the now-infamous nuclear subsidies bill signed into law in 2019—the state’s senate on March 3 passed a measure, S.B. 44, to repeal those subsidies. The vote was 32–0.
For those who may need reminding, federal prosecutors on July 21, 2020, arrested Larry Householder, then speaker of the Ohio House, and four lobbyists and political consultants for their involvement in an alleged $61 million corruption and racketeering scheme aimed at guaranteeing passage of H.B. 6, whose subsidies had kept Ohio’s Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants from premature closure.
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 the plants’ operator, Energy Harbor Corporation, then known as FirstEnergy Solutions (FES). FES had announced in March 2018 that it would be forced to close Davis-Besse and Perry without some form of support from the state. (The payments to Energy Harbor were blocked last December by an Ohio Supreme Court injunction, which complemented an earlier lower court ruling.)
A word from the sponsor: “Ohioans should know that elected officials are addressing their concerns, as this legislation would protect ratepayers, Ohio’s green energy generation, and the local economies surrounding Ohio’s two nuclear plants,” said Sen. Jerry Cirino (R., Dist. 18), one of S.B. 44’s primary sponsors, who last month told reporters that Energy Harbor is unlikely to oppose his legislation. “This bill is a win-win for everyday Ohioans, ensuring that utility rates stay low while supporting reliable, cost-effective energy options for residents and businesses across Ohio.”
In the House: Members of the Ohio legislature’s lower chamber have continued to work on their own legislation for dealing with the scandal. For instance, H.B. 128, sponsored by Reps. Jim Hoops (R., Dist. 81) and Dick Stein (R., Dist. 57), would repeal not only H.B. 6’s nuclear subsidies but also its solar energy subsidies; while H.B. 57, sponsored by Reps. Michael Skindell (D., Dist. 13) and Michael O’Brien (D., Dist. 64), demands a total repeal.
“Often referred to as the worst energy policy legislation passed by any state, H.B. 6 is an example of how a corrupt system can pass legislation hurting average working families to benefit large corporations,” said O’Brien during February 17 testimony on his bill.