Gov. Mike DeWine Calls On Ohio Legislature To Repeal Nuclear Bailout

Jul 23, 2020

Story updated Thursday, July 23 at 2:20 p.m.

Gov. Mike DeWine is now calling on Ohio lawmakers to repeal and replace HB6, the sweeping bill that bailed out two nuclear power plants while slashing renewable energy efforts, following the arrest of House Speaker Larry Householder.

"I ask the legislature to repeal and replace House Bill 6 with an open process the public can have full confidence in," DeWine said at a press conference Thursday. "This is something that needs to happen in the open, and needs to happen very quickly."

House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) is accused of funneling $61 million from a company widely thought to be FirstEnergy Solutions for personal and political benefit, in return for passing the bailout of the company's two nuclear power plants, Davis-Besse in Oak Harbor and Perry.

While DeWine says he supports the energy policy at its core, the bill's passage violated public trust.

"While the policy in my opinion is good, the process by which it was created stinks," DeWine said. "It's terrible. It's not acceptable."

After federal prosecutors unveiled racketeering conspiracy charges against Householder and four associates, a bipartisan group lawmakers started on crafting a repeal of the energy law.

"I think that the entire process was obscene and I think that the entire process needs to be eliminated," says state Rep. Michael O'Brien (D-Warren).

The bill was approved by a final House concurrence vote of 51-38, needing nine House Democrats to vote yes in order for it to pass. O'Brien says all the Democrats are on board with a plan to repeal.

"It barely passed by just a few votes. And I think this bipartisan bill to repeal House Bill 6 will overwhelmingly pass," he said.

State Rep. Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario) and Rep. Laura Lanes (R-Grove City), both opponents of HB6, say they plan to announce legislation to repeal the bill on Thursday.

DeWine, who sigined the bill into law, originally said he didn't support a repeal of HB6. "Because people did bad things does not mean the policy is not a good policy," he said.

By Thursday afternoon, as more lawmakers signed onto the repeal effort, DeWine apparently changed his view.

"It was clear to me that this policy is going to be forever tainted," DeWine said.

The law in HB6 created an increased charge of $0.85 a month on everyone's electric bills, creating $150 million in nuclear subsidies and $20 million in solar subsidies per year.

The bill also allowed for another increased charge on monthly electric bills of up to $1.50 to subsidize two Ohio Valley Electric Corporation coal plants, Kyger Creek in Gallia County and Clifty Creek in Madison, IN.

Environmental groups have joined calls for a repeal of the law. They opposed HB6 in large part because it rolled back renewable energy standards and eliminated energy efficiency standards.

Conservative groups also opposed the bill, saying struggling companies should not get bailed out by the government.

Less than a year after the bailout was passed, FirstEnergy Solutions rebranded as Energy Harbor and carried out a $800 million stock buyback.