As the calls for a repeal of the state's nuclear power plant bailout grow louder, there are legislators who are standing by the law that made sweeping changes to Ohio's energy policy. One vocal supporter says the bailout is still what's best for Ohioans.
The laws created through HB6 set up nuclear and coal subsidies paid for by new charges to monthly bills for all electric users in Ohio. The nuclear portion results in an $0.85/month increase and the coal portion can result in up to a $1.50/month increase.
But Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), House majority floor leader, points to a study from the Legislative Service Commission that shows the law’s cuts to clean energy mandates result in an overall decrease in electric bills.
"[It] now calculates the ratepayer savings over the life of the bill at $2.3 billion, cut in rates, lower electric costs. Why anyone would be against that, I have no clue," says Seitz.
Opponents argue that investing in renewables and energy efficiency result in lower electric bills in the long run. Reports from utilities to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, used during the debate over HB6 in 2019, showed an overall cost savings from the investment from the efficiency programs.
Seitz has been leading the charge to get rid of the clean energy mandates for ten years saying the renewable and energy efficiency industries were overly subsidized.
A federal racketeering investigation accuses a company believed to be FirstEnergy and its subsidiaries of funneling millions of dollars into a 501(c)(4) called Generation Now which then used that money to get HB6 passed out the legislature and protect it from an attempted referendum. Investigators say House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) used that 501(c)(4) for political and personal gain.
Now, House members from both sides of the aisle are calling for a repeal of HB6. Some want a clean repeal of HB6 which would mean a full reinstatement of the clean energy mandates.
Seitz does not want to repeal the bill, instead, he suggests passing a provision that strengthens the auditing measures of HB6.
"There's plenty of time to come up with better, stronger, audit language to make sure that the payments to benefit the two nuclear power plants are truly needed," Seitz says.
Seitz, who did not vote for Householder for speaker in January 2019, says he has nothing to do with the racketeering investigation.