House Bill 6 is making national headlines for not only its environmental policy changes but also its controversial corporate involvement.
HB6 was signed into law on July 26 by Governor Mike DeWine, and had been branded as cost-cutting for ratepayers and friendly toward the environment by its proponents. And it would bailout two failing nuclear power plants, one of the few carbon-free energy sources available. But it would also bailout two failing coal plants, disincentivize investment in renewables and cost Ohioans more in the long run. This bill is a disaster in the making for Ohio’s environmental policy. Here are some specific examples of the bill’s backpedaling mandates:
- Currently, Ohio requires utilities to get 12.5 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2027, but under HB6, that number would be reduced to 8.5 percent by 2026. After 2026, the mandate would go away.
- It would get rid of the requirement to reduce consumer’s energy use by 22 percent from 2008 levels by 2027. HB6 only requires a 17.5 percent decrease, after which point utilities may ditch the program entirely.
- In addition to bailing out two uncompetitive nuclear power plants, it also bails out two coal power plants.
Another controversy surrounding the bill, besides its horrifying environmental implications, is the ways in which it got passed. Here is the breakdown of how this bill became a law:
- FirstEnergy Solutions, owner of the sputtering nuclear power plants, poured thousands into political leaders like Larry Householder and Governor DeWine, who have, in turn, given their unwavering support to the bill.
- It spent $2.7 million on lobbyists to boost support for bailing out the power plants.
- At least seven of those whose testimony was in favor of the legislation was written by the Dewey Square Group, a company that FirstEnergy Solutions paid over $500,000.
There are efforts in place to stop the bill in its tracks. Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, a group with hard-to-trace origins is attempting to get the almost 266,000 signatures needed by October 21 to place a referendum on the November 2020 ballot. Opposing this effort is Ohioans for Energy Security, another similarly shrouded group.