The final nail in the coffin of Ohio’s nuclear subsidies occurred on March 31 when Gov. Mike DeWine signed H.B. 128, a bill passed unanimously by the state’s Senate last Thursday.
Approved 86-7 by the Ohio House on March 10, H.B. 128 strips the nuclear subsidy provisions from H.B. 6, the controversial and, since last July, scandal-scarred piece of legislation signed into law in 2019 to aid Ohio’s economically challenged nuclear facilities, Davis-Besse and Perry.
H.B. 128 also removes the earlier bill’s “decoupling” provision, which would have been of substantial financial benefit to FirstEnergy Corporation, the former parent company of Energy Harbor, owner and operator of Davis-Besse and Perry. The new bill retains H.B. 6’s subsidies for utility-scale solar projects, however, and for two coal plants (one in Ohio, one in Indiana).
H.B. 128 was sponsored by Reps. James Hoops (R., 81st Dist.) and Dick Stein (R., 57th Dist.).
Background: 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. The utility (then called FirstEnergy Solutions) 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.)
On July 21 of last year, federal prosecutors 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.