Gov. DeWine signs energy bill: How will it impact your electric rates?

ajc.com

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 6 Tuesday which is expected to impact more than 4.5 million electric ratepayers, bail out two aging nuclear power plants and give a subsidy to two coal-fired plants.

The bill adds an 80-cent per month charge to residential customers to raise up to $150 million a year in subsidies to keep open nuclear plants owned by Akron-based First Energy Solutions.

It authorizes $1.50 per month charge to residential customers for two coal-fired plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corp. AEP, Dayton Power & Light and Duke Energy are among utilities that hold an ownership stake in the OVEC plants.

The Ohio House voted 51-38 Tuesday on the controversial bill.

HB6 scales back and eventually terminates renewable energy benchmarks and mandated energy efficiency programs for utility companies. Because those programs will phase out, ratepayers overall will eventually pay less on their monthly bills, according to supporters of HB6.

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, a champion of the bill, said the measure will save ratepayers $1.3 billion over the course of the program.

“Despite claims this bill will save people money, don’t believe it,” said Trish Demeter of Ohio Environmental Council.

Opponents of the bill include: AARP Ohio, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, Ohio Manufacturers Association, the Buckeye Institute and a slew of environmental groups. Demeter said all options would be considered, including a referendum campaign.

DeWine said last week “It’s important to the state of Ohio to be able to have a significant amount of energy that is created to be carbon-free. By having nuclear plants, frankly, today is the only way we’re going to be able to achieve that.”

He added, “Our goal all along is to save the nuclear plants, save the jobs but also to keep the cost of energy down, the cost of utilities down for the ratepayers.”

Related: Ohio Senate passes controversial energy bill

The bill has been the subject of intense lobbying since its introduction four months ago, including $11.47 million spent on TV, radio and online ads. A dark money group, Generation Now, spent more than $9.5 million on ads designed to build public support for the measure. Opponents, which included OH Against Nuke Bailouts and a handful of others, spent $1.9 million on ads against it.

Related: Big money pushes for energy bill; consumer groups oppose it

Householder said he believes the pro-HB6 ad campaign is funded by corporations in Ohio that want to stay in Ohio.

“As far as the influence that it had, you’ve got to remember that there was not one commercial and there was not one mailer in support of House Bill 6 until Big Gas, that is funded by the Chinese, came into Ohio and started to attack House members. And when that happened, House members will be defended,” he said.

Related: Plans canceled to send state plane to Chicago to pick up lawmakers for key vote

Fifty votes were needed in the House to agree to Senate changes to the bill. House leaders made and then canceled requests to use a state-owned aircraft to retrieve lawmakers attending a conference in Chicago to get them back for the vote.