Chair Of Committee Hearing Nuclear Bailout Repeal Bills Puts Foward A Delay

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — There’s a new twist in the possible repeal of Ohio’s controversial nuclear bailout law – a plan to delay the $150 million the state will collect next year for its two nuclear power plants. It comes from the head of a special House committee hearing proposals to repeal the bailout.

FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
FILE – In this April 4, 2017, file photo, is the then-FirstEnergy Corp.’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. [AP Photo | Ron Schwane, File]
The plan from Rep. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) would delay the subsides for two nuclear power plants that will be collected from all Ohio electric ratepayers starting in January. And it would require a third-party audit to determine if the money is needed.

Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) said in a statement: “Ohioans shouldn’t see their utility bills go up as a result of the largest corruption scandal in Ohio history. Not now – not ever! How many people have to be arrested, indicted, plead guilty, resign, or be fired before Republicans will definitively say that House Bill 6 has to go?”

But that’s not how Hoops sees it.

“It just gives us some time to really look at the issue more. I don’t feel we’re kicking anything down there. Energy policy is just very complex,” Hoops said.

And Hoops doesn’t want a full repeal: “There were some good things I feel that were in the bill. I think we want to keep the nuclear plants here in Ohio.”

Two coal plants and some solar project would also benefit from another $20 million in subsidies in the law, which also cut utilities’ energy efficiency programs.

Lawsuits have been filed to stop the collection of up to $2.35 in monthly charges and the forwarding of that money to Energy Harbor, formerly FirstEnergy Solutions, which operates the nuclear plants.

Federal investigators say that law passed because of a $61 million bribery scheme involving former Speaker Larry Householder, four other people and a utility believed to be FirstEnergy.

The bailout passed with Republican and Democratic votes, and some Republicans have said research from the Legislative Service Commission shows a repeal would cost consumers more than $2 billion. But that doesn’t include money that could be saved if energy efficiency programs were brought back.