By J.D. Davidson
March 14, 2023 - Ohio lawmakers continue to go after legislation that created a billion-dollar bailout to the state’s nuclear energy industry and led to the largest bribery scandal in Ohio history.
House Bill 6, passed in 2019, also created taxpayer subsidies to bail out two coal-fired power plants, one in Indiana. On Monday morning, two Democratic state representatives announced their plan to introduce a bill that would fully repeal and refund those subsidies.
The two coal plants are owned by Ohio Valley Electric Corp., and their bailouts were included with the $1 billion for FirstEnergy’s nuclear power plants. Ratepayers continue to pay for what is estimated to be more than $1 billion through 2030 for the two coal plants, one in Cheshire, Ohio and another in Madison, Indiana.
The announcement came four days after a federal grand jury found former Republican Speaker of the House Larry Householder and state GOP leader Matt Borges guilty of racketeering conspiracy related to bribes surrounding the passage of HB6.
The two face two years in prison.
“The verdict is in: HB6 was fraudulent legislation passed by illegal means at the expense of taxpayers,” said Rep. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson. “Ohio families have been on the hook for up to $150 million each year in fees paid to [Ohio Valley Electric Corp.], and if left untouched, Ohioans will pay roughly $1 billion in costs by 2030. It’s time to undo the damage caused by the largest bribery scandal in Ohio’s history and bring financial relief to Ohioans who are still paying to bail out dirty, failing coal plants.”
The nuclear subsidies have been stopped by both legislation and the court, but lawmakers failed to pass a bill by the end of the last session in December that would have also stopped the coal subsidies.
The new bill would stop and repeal the ratepayer subsidies to the two coal plants, require full repayments of all revenues collected from Ohioans and prevent any future customer-paid subsidies to the two facilities.
“My duty as an elected official is to serve honorably and make the lives of those I serve better. This legislation serves both goals by eliminating the vestiges of a bill born out of corruption, and providing residents with some needed financial relief,” said Rep. Sean Brennan, D-Parma. “Protecting consumers should be a goal of all public servants. To that end, I hope that we can find bipartisan support for this bill.”