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Ohio Attorney General Considering Legal Action To Stall Nuclear Bailout Rate Hikes

The entrance to Energy Harbor's Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
Ron Schwane
Associated Press
The entrance to Energy Harbor's Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says he's considering taking legal action to stall the billion-dollar nuclear power plant bailout, as state legislators consider a possible repeal to the law that created the subsidies.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved the mechanism to be used to increase nearly every ratepayer's electric bills next year. The increase is part of HB6, a law that creates $150 million in annual subsides to two nuclear power plants.

Yost's discussion of a possible injunction is the latest action from leaders, advocates and interest groups fighting to repeal HB6, which federal investigators say was the catalyst for a $60 million racketeering scheme involving former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford).

Michael Hartley with the Coalition to Restore Public Trust says legislators must toss out the law.

"Every single word of it is corrupt, and every single word of it is tainted. That is why, to restore the public trust in Ohio's government and political system, that's why the legislature needs to repeal HB6 in its entirety," Hartley says. "The citizens of Ohio feel duped. They feel that their government duped them on this bill. And therefore, they're mad, they're very mad. And they want this repealed."

Federal authorities say a utility company believed to be FirstEnergy and its subsidiaries funneled millions of dollars to personally and politically benefit Householder in exchange for passing the bailout, and then defending it against a possible ballot challenge.

HB6 allowed an increase of $0.85 for everyone's monthly electric bills. That increase would generate $170 million in annual subsidies, $150 million for nuclear power plants, and $20 million for solar farms.

The bill also created an increase of up to $1.50 a month on electric bills to subsidize two coal plants, Kyger Creek in Gallia County and Clifty Creek in Madison, Ind.

Several measures in HB6 were priorities for FirstEnergy and its former subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions, now called Energy Harbor. FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones has said he believes the company acted properly in the matter and intends to fully cooperate with investigators.

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.