Ohio Lawmakers Consider More Bills To Repeal Or Revise Nuclear Bailout Law

Feb 22, 2021

Several bills have been introduced in the Ohio House and Senate to tackle the controversial nuclear power plant bailout law. The measures range from a partial repeal to a complete revoking of HB6, which is currently at the center of a $61 million federal bribery investigation.

State Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk) is proposing HB128, which would effectively throw out the nuclear bailout portion of HB6 by eliminating the nuclear subsidies. Those subsidies amount to about $150 million a year from a charge attached to ratepayer bills.

Stein's proposal would also do away with the solar subsidies and end different rate changes that benefited FirstEnergy. 

"Hopefully restoring confidence for the folks in Ohio that again there is no longer any benefit to FirstEnergy or FirstEnergy Solutions as a result of the passage of HB6," Stein says.

The additional charge on electric bills for the nuclear subsidy is already on hold by a court-ordered injunction.

Stein says the company that now owns Ohio's two nuclear plants, Energy Harbor, has asked for the elimination of the subsidies due to federal policies that could change its position in the energy market. Energy Harbor, formerly known as FirstEnergy Solutions, was a subsidiary of FirstEnergy before splitting and coming out under the new name in 2020. 

Federal investigators say FirstEnergy funneled millions of dollars to a dark money group in order to help state Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) become speaker and in return pass HB6. While Householder has pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges, two of his associates and the dark money group Generation Now have all reached plea deals with prosecutors.

While the investigation into HB6 is ongoing, some legislators say Stein's bill doesn't go far enough. State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) is proposing HB10, which eliminates the nuclear and solar subsidies, along with a measure that guaranteed a certain amount of subsidies for two coal plants.

There are other pieces of legislation, HB18 and HB57, that would repeal all of HB6, which would mean the revival of Ohio's green energy standards.

Republican leadership in the House and Senate have signaled a willingness to move on bills that address the nuclear and solar subsidies.