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After Repealing Nuclear Bailout, Ohio Lawmakers May Have More Changes For Energy Law

 The Kyger Creek Power Plant in Gallia County is one of two operated by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC), which received subsidies through House Bill 6.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
The Kyger Creek Power Plant in Gallia County is one of two operated by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC), which received subsidies through House Bill 6.

Last week, Gov. Mike DeWine signed a law ending the $1 billion in charges that Ohio electric ratepayers would have paid to prop up the state’s two nuclear power plants. This new law effectively takes the nuclear bailout out of the energy law known as House Bill 6, which passed in 2019.

But lawmakers may not be done with that measure.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said removing the nuclear subsidies was, in his words, the easy part of dealing with House Bill 6.

In an interview for "The State of Ohio," Huffman said he’s pretty sure that HB6's elimination of energy efficiency programs run by utilities and trimming of renewable energy requirements on utilities won’t be restored to where they were before.

“The subsidy to various companies for energy efficiency programs or other kinds of energy," he said, "in my mind, and this is in the mind of Matt Huffman, those things are not coming back."

The fees on all ratepayers' bills were supposed to be collected starting in January, but a stay issued in a lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost staved off those charges.

Huffman said there will be discussion on bills to cut the $20 million in subsidies for two coal fired plants and six solar projects that are also in the energy law.

HB6 is at the center of the $60 million bribery scandal that federal prosecutors say involved Republican former House Speaker Larry Householder, former Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges and the late lobbyist Neil Clark. Two others accused in the case have pleaded guilty, as has the dark money group Generation Now.

The case also involves a utility widely believed to be FirstEnergy, which is under investigation by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers, who was leading the investigation before resigning at the request of the Biden administration, has said COVID shut down court proceedings, which means it’ll take longer than usual before a resolution in these high-profile cases.