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Energy Bill Stalls In Ohio House Due To Absent Members

FirstEnergy Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
Ron Schwane
The Ohio Energy bill would provide a subsidies to a pair of FirstEnergy power plants including the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station.

The sweeping energy bill aimed at saving nuclear plants from shutting down while making big cuts to renewable and efficiency policies was put on hold Wednesday, due to four lawmakers who were not present at the Ohio Statehouse.

“We had four ‘yes’ votes when the bill left the House that were not here today,” says House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford).

Householder says he was one vote shy of sending the energy bill to the governor’s office. The bill spent most of Wednesday in the Senate, first going through the Senate Energy and Public Utilities and then getting a vote out of the chamber in the evening.

The House was in recess for most of the day waiting for HB6 to come their way for a concurrence vote.

FirstEnergy Solutions had said they needed to know if they were getting subsidies by June 30. However, that deadline passed and the company said there was still time before it had to move forward with its plans to shut down the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants.

Householder was asked if he was worried about delaying the vote until August 1.

“Well there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. We put our best foot forward as you know and passed it and sent it over to the Senate and they put their best foot forward and the only thing we’re lacking at this point is about four people in their chairs,” Householder says.

The plan would create an 85 cent charge on monthly electric bills. That, along with increased charges for commercial and industrial users, would generate $150 million a year for the nuclear plants. Another $20 million would go towards existing solar farms.

The bill would also allow utilities to charge customers up to $1.50 to subsidize Ohio Valley Electric Corporation coal plants, the Kyger Creek Plant in Gallia County and the Clifty Creek Plant in Madison, Indiana.

To result in a rate decrease for electric customers, lawmakers are weakening requirements for renewable energy investment and eliminating the requirements for energy efficiency.

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.