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Ohio Law Bails Out Nuclear Power Plants By Eliminating Clean Energy Standards

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 7/24/2019 Casey Leins
Mike DeWine et al. standing in a room: The Associated Press © The Associated Press The Associated Press

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation Tuesday to bail out two of the state's nuclear power plants by adding new fees to residents' electric bills until 2027 while cutting clean energy efforts.

Most of the funds collected through the controversial bill, which passed the state's House of Representatives with a 53-38 vote, will go to FirstEnergy Solutions, which owns power plants in Toledo and Perry, northeast of Cleveland.

Ohio customers will pay an additional 85 cents each month, while large industrial plants will pay up to $2,400 more per month, according to cleveland.com.

"Our goal all along has been to save the nuclear plants, save the jobs but also keep the cost of energy down for the ratepayer," Dewine told reporters, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I think House Bill 6 does that."

The new ratepayer fees would raise about $150 million per year for the two nuclear plants and $20 million for solar energy.

But in order to minimize the new fees for ratepayers, the bill reduces Ohio's renewable-energy and energy-efficiency efforts, lowering clean energy requirements over the next few years and eliminating them altogether after 2026.

Proponents of the legislation say Ohio residents are actually saving money with these changes. The Ohio Senate committee that evaluated the legislation found that it costs ratepayers an average of $4.74 per month for the state to try to meet clean energy standards.

"It cannot bare overemphasis enough that this is a bailout for the ratepayers," said Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "So who benefits from this bill? Ratepayers."

Opponents, including environmental groups, argue that energy efficiency efforts would save residents money in the long run.

"Ohio consumers and manufacturers want greater commitment to renewable energy, not less," Andrew Gohn, the American Wind Energy Association director for Eastern state policy said, according to Greentech Media.

"House Bill 6 won't make Ohio's air cleaner, but it will hike consumer electric bills and send both jobs and clean energy investment to Ohio's neighbors," Gohn said.

Copyright 2019 U.S. News & World Report

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