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Ohio Senate Restores Renewable Standards To Energy Bill, Keeps Nuclear Subsidies

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The Senate has made its own sweeping changes to Ohio energy policy through a substitute bill version of HB6 that continues to bailout nuclear power plants but avoids repealing renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.

Under the Senate’s plan, residential ratepayers would see a monthly charge of $0.80 on their electric bills. That, along with higher fees for commercial and industrial users, would generate $150 million for FirstEnergy Solution’s two nuclear power plants, Davis-Besse and Perry.

The House version of HB6 tossed out Ohio’s alternative energy standards. Lawmakers who backed the plan said the renewable energy standards and energy efficiency standards cost the average residential ratepayer more than $4.50 a month.

Supporters of the standards said they supported investment in renewable energy and helped save customers money in the long run.

The Senate’s plan would keep the requirements for utilities to use a certain percent of renewable energy but lower the final benchmark in 2025 from 12.5% to 8.5%.

As for energy efficiency standards, the bill would set those benchmarks to be reviewed by 2021. The Senate is also calling for other changes to efficiency polices related to banking and shared savings that could impact the way efficiency programs are handled going forward.

There are still subsidies in place for the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, or OVEC, which owns two coal plants: the Kyger Creek Plant near Gallipolis and the Clifty Creek Plant in Indiana. However, the Senate’s plan caps charges per residential ratepayer at $1.50 a month. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio would have final say over that rate.

The new language also does away with allowing municipalities to hold a referendum against a proposed wind farm.

Several groups said they were looking over the new language and did not want to comment yet.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.