Lawmakers hear testimony on Clean Energy Bill, opponents say it will raise electric bills

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Your electric bill is broken down into a bunch of fees and costs. Opponents of House Bill 6, which creates the Ohio Clean Air Program, say it is going to drive up energy costs and raise electric bills. 

Supporters say, it needs to pass to help two nuclear power plants managed by FirstEnergy Solutions. 

The program would eliminate just under $4.50 in alternative energy standards fees from your bill and replace them with a $2.50 fee that would go into a fund used in part to prop up the nuclear plants. 

Supporters of the bill say, that makes your bill go down. 

Simple math, right. 

What they don’t like to talk about is the what that roughly $4.50 does to keep energy costs down and according to opponents of the bill those costs would ultimately rise bringing the overall energy costs on bills up eliminating the nearly $2 in savings. 

The fees being removed mandated companies keep a diverse energy portfolio with renewable energy sources.  

By removing the mandate to have them, some opponents argue, there will be no guarantee renewable energy will be pursued in the state. 

When asked by lawmakers what would get opponents to the bill that represent clean energy sources like wind and solar on board with it, the answer was one simple thing; preserve the alternative energy standards. 

That response drew a visible frown from one lawmaker. 

The financially failing nuclear power plants are not the first energy providers to be in danger of closing here in Ohio; over the last 6 years nearly 50 energy producing units have shut down. 

While this is the first bill put forward to provide financial assistance, lawmakers tell me this is an issue that has been discussed behind the scenes at the Statehouse for years. 

Lawmakers have known a solution to the problem was needed, but for some reason they couldn’t get off the starting line; until now. 

Now that they have, opposition to the method is fierce. Dozens of people are scheduled to testify against the bill, or as an interested party that neither supports nor opposes it, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. 

Supporters were given their chance to testify last week. 

With the nuclear plants and the economies of the communities they reside in hanging in the balance, lawmakers will be looking to move swiftly. 

Some opponents say, there are solutions to this problem out there and they are willing to work with lawmakers to get to those solutions, but they say this bill is not the way. 

Some put forward the prospect of attempting to help the communities through the tough times after the plants have closed as a more appropriate use of dollars. 

Others say, subsidizing the plants on a short-term basis with clear guiderails may work; but it would be to the end of preparing the communities for an inevitable shutdown.  

Meanwhile, American Energy Providers testified as an interested party, neither supporting nor opposing the bill, Tuesday. 

It wants the legislature to define “need” once and for all. 

The definition of what need is has stymied the company’s efforts to get a 400 MW project approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). 

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