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Ohio House to vote on bailout for nuclear, coal plants that will raise utility bills

By Laura A. Bischoff, Columbus Bureau

Republicans re-vamped a controversial energy bill pending in the Ohio House, making changes that eroded the chances that Democrats would vote for it and angering renewable power advocates.

House Bill 6 cleared the House Energy Committee on Thursday, teeing it up for a possible floor vote as early as Wednesday.

The latest version of House Bill 6 would wipe out renewable energy standards – a long time goal of some Republican lawmakers and business groups – and charge residential customers across Ohio $1 per month and other customer classes higher monthly fees to create a “clean air fund.”

Two nuclear power plants owned by First Energy Solutions would be eligible to receive grant money from the fund, which would generate about $198 million a year.

The bill also calls for charging residential customers $2.50 per month to subsidize operation of two coal-fired plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corp. – including one in Indiana.

The bill sets up a hurdle for wind energy projects by allowing township voters to block them.

House Bill 6, introduced in April, has been subject to intense lobbying, extensive testimony, multiple revisions and $3 million in TV and radio ads both for and against it.

State Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, a member of the House Energy Committee, said Democrats bargained in good faith for a clean energy bill. “Instead, this misguided bill has gone from bad to worse, bailing out more corporations at the expense of working people and the environment. It’s a bad deal for workers, for consumers and for Ohio,” he said.

The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel said in written testimony that the new version names winners and losers. “It’s great for: Big nuclear; Big coal; Big electric utilities; Big industrial customers; Big FirstEnergy and the Big Wall Street creditors of bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions. The Bill is bad for regular folks —‘Bob and Betty Buckeye’ — and smaller business customers who will pay to make the bill great for big business.”

Read the original article from the Dayton Daily News

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