Natural gas bills in Ohio could increase under a Republican-backed law signed by DeWine

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law that blocks Ohio agencies from enacting clean air standards in regard to cars, but a late addition to it could also hike up your natural gas bills.

Residential natural gas meter measuring gas consumption.
Residential meter measuring consumption for natural gas bills. [JWPhotoworks |]
House Bill 201, the soon-to-be law, included a last-minute amendment that allows utilities to charge customers on their natural gas bills for pipeline rehab and construction work that would service the sites of future infrastructure megaprojects—like the proposed Intel and Honda plants in central Ohio. It brought the proposal from a few sentences to seven pages.It broadens the state’s law regarding infrastructure development riders, which let utilities recover costs from certain projects by charging customers up to an additional $1.50 per month.Under HB 201, utilities could defer any charges that exceed $1.50 per month.DeWine vetoed similar language about a broader set of utilities included in the state budget in the summer. But Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for DeWine, said this time around, it’s a different statute affecting different utility bills.Still, he said it facilitates the construction of more shovel-ready sites. The governor’s office wants to see sites primed for megaprojects within 100 miles of every Ohioan.”The changes to this rider for gas purposes will allow these sites to be ready,” Tierney said.Those against the changes, like Kim Bojko with the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, have said it financially burdens consumers with little oversight. The costs levied on them could come even if a megaproject never materializes, she said.“While economic development is good for Ohio, above market customer charges on customers’ natural gas bills for undefined, speculative economic development projects are not,” Bojko testified in committee, prior to HB 201 passing.

But Tierney said this offers more safeguards. The alternative, he said, is that utilities would just increase their rates to cover construction costs.

The bill goes into effect this spring.