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New Ohio House Committee Looking Into Repealing Nuclear Bailout

FirstEnergy Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
Ron Schwane
FirstEnergy Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Republican leaders in the Ohio House have announced the creation of a new committee to hold hearings on the potential repeal of HB6, a nuclear power plant bailout bill at the center of an alleged $60 million corruption scheme.

Newly-elected House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) says the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight will allow will focus on energy issues and be tasked with "crafting legislation to repeal and replace House Bill 6."

HB6 is the sweeping energy law that created $150 million in annual subsidies for two struggling nuclear power plants, $20 million in annual subsidies for existing solar farms, and new subsidies for coal plants in Gallia County and Madison, Ind.

The bill also rolled back Ohio's renewable energy standards and eliminated energy efficiency mandates.

"Our goal is to have an open and thorough process for repealing House Bill 6 and replacing it with thoughtful legislation Ohioans can have confidence in," Cupp said in a written statement.

The laws created by HB6 are under scrutiny after a federal investigation alleged that former House Speaker and current state Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) pushed the bill in exchange for millions of dollars that flowed from a utility believed to be FirstEnergy into a dark money group. Householder and four associates are facing racketeering conspiracy charges.

State Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) believes that the end result will still be a full repeal of the law.

"It's helpful for transparency for the people that don't want a repeal for them to be able to put their arguments forward," Lanese says. "I think one of the problems that we hear a lot about is that people want more sunshine, and I think the speaker is allowing that process to go forward."

House Democrats criticize the new committee as just another hurdle towards a full repeal.

State Rep. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) says the legislature should act quickly in order to stop further implementation of the law, such as increased electric bills next year.

"I think the citizens of Ohio have had enough conversations. The vast majority of citizens support the outright appeal of House Bill 6," Skindell says.

The Ohio Senate is also moving forward with a bill that proposes a full repeal of HB6, with its first committee hearing this week.

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.