There are only a few weeks until Ohio's controversial nuclear bailout law is set to add new charges to residents' electric bills. With no repeal yet of HB6, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a second lawsuit seeking to stop those rate increases.
Yost's suit seeks to immediately stop the collection of $2.35 in monthly charges on all Ohio electric bills. Those charges would start January 1 and total $150 million a year statewide – with the money bound for Ohio’s two nuclear power plants, as well as coal and solar subsidies.
A lawsuit Yost filed in September sought to stop the money from going to Energy Harbor, the former FirstEnergy subsidiary that now owns the nuclear plants. However, even if the suit were successful, it would not prevent the charges from being collected in the first place.
FirstEnergy said at the time it would "vigorously" defend itself and that the case had no merit.
The cities of Columbus and Cincinnati have filed a civil lawsuit to halt the bailout fee and strike down HB6, claiming that the law is an unconstitutional lending of state credit to a private enterprise.
There are currently four bills under consideration at the Ohio Statehouse that would repeal HB6. Three would seek a full repeal, while the fourth would eliminate the ratepayer subsidies but retain the law's cuts to renewable energy standards and elimination of energy efficiency standards.
Federal investigators say HB6 became law as part of a $61 million bribery scheme involving Republican former House Speaker Larry Householder, four associates, the dark money group Generation Now, and a utility believed to be FirstEnergy. Two people have so far pleaded guilty to the racketeering charges.
While FirstEnergy is not charged yet in the federal case and has defended itself against any allegations of misconduct, several executives – including CEO Chuck Jones – have been fired for violating company policy.