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Amid HB6 Repeal Talks, Ohio Lawmaker Proposes Pausing Nuclear Bailout Subsidies

The Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station on Lake Erie.
Ron Schwane
/
Associated Press
The Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station on Lake Erie is one of two power plants set to receive $150 millon in subsides.

There’s a new twist in the possible repeal of Ohio’s controversial nuclear bailout law. A lawmaker has unveiled a plan to delay the $150 million the state will collect next year for its two nuclear power plants.

The plan from state Rep. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon), who leads a special House committee hearing proposals to repeal HB6, would delay subsides for two nuclear power plants that will be collected from all Ohio electric ratepayers starting in January. It would also require a third-party audit to determine if the money is needed.

State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus), a staunch opponent of HB6, criticized Hoops's proposal in a statement: “Ohioans shouldn’t see their utility bills go up as a result of the largest corruption scandal in Ohio history. Not now – not ever! How many people have to be arrested, indicted, plead guilty, resign, or be fired before Republicans will definitively say that House Bill 6 has to go?”

But that’s not how Hoops sees it.

“It just gives us some time to really look at the issue more. I don’t feel we’re kicking anything down there. Energy policy is just very complex," Hoops said.

Hoops, however, doesn't support a full repeal of HB6, which also gives $20 million in subsidies to two coal plants and some solar projects, and cuts utilities’ energy efficiency programs and the state's green energy standards.

"There were some good things I feel that were in the bill. I think we want to keep the nuclear plants here in Ohio,” Hoops said.

Lawsuits have been filed to stop the collection of up to $2.35 in monthly charges and the forwarding of that money to Energy Harbor, formerly FirstEnergy Solutions, which operates the nuclear plants.

Federal investigators say HB6 passed in part because of a $61 million bribery scheme involving former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), four other associates, a dark money group and a utility believed to be FirstEnergy.

The bailout was passed with Republican and Democratic votes. Some Republicans have said research from the Legislative Service Commission shows a repeal would cost consumers more than $2 billion. However, that doesn’t include money that could be saved if energy efficiency programs were brought back.