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News and Analysis

House Bill 6 Repeal Unplugged

December 23, 2020

After months of hearings and negotiations, state lawmakers have ended the legislative session without passing a single measure addressing House Bill 6, as neither the House nor Senate had sufficient votes to approve a legislative “repeal” offered by Reps. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) and Bill Seitz (R-Green Township).

The Hoops/Seitz “lite repeal” legislation was largely based on HB 798, which contained some good provisions but was not a repeal of HB 6 in any way. To the contrary, it would have paved the way for utilities to reap the benefits of HB 6 subsidies, including OVEC and decoupling.

The OMA issued a Key Vote Alert late last week advising lawmakers to vote against the Seitz/Hoops amendment. In the forthcoming legislative session, which begins in January, the OMA will urge lawmakers to advance the provisions contained in HB 772, introduced by Rep. Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario). 12/23/2020

Nuke Plants in Jeopardy Due to HB 6 Subsidy

December 23, 2020

In a remarkable turn of events, news reports indicate that Energy Harbor — the company that owns Ohio’s two nuclear plants — has asked lawmakers to repeal the subsidy provided by House Bill 6. Why? A federal rule blocks companies that receive state subsidies from being able to sell their energy on a market that’s designed to provide extra energy capacity, if needed.

It appears Energy Harbor now views the HB 6 subsidies as a costly liability, something the OMA pointed out as early as June 2019. Last weekend, amid reports that the legislature was seeking to make the subsidies optional, OMA energy technical consultants at RunnerStone LLC issued this memo describing why optionality won’t succeed. 12/23/2020

HB 104 Quietly Dies

December 23, 2020

For the past few weeks, it was understood that House Bill 104, sponsored by Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk), would be the vehicle for House Bill 6 repeal provisions. In other words, senators would amend HB 104 with an entire HB 6 repeal bill — a common practice during post-election sessions.

Unfortunately, HB 104, which intended to spur research into molten-salt thorium reactors, would have imposed several drawbacks for manufacturers — and yet the bill came perilously close to enactment this session. 12/23/2020

Franklin County Judge Halts Collection of HB 6 Fees

December 23, 2020

A Franklin County judge this week ordered that $170 million per year in statewide customer charges — authorized under House Bill 6 — may not be collected from customer bills beginning in January. The charges would subsidize two nuclear power plants and three solar farms.

Along with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, the OMA took legal steps to stop the collection of the new subsidies. This is especially important since the General Assembly failed to repeal the unjustified subsidies during the current legislative session. For further insight on the legal action, read this update from OMA energy counsel.

In a news release, Yost said the judge’s ruling “proves that the powerful can be held accountable and that corruption will be rooted out. Everybody who pays an electric bill whether for their own home or a job-sustaining manufacturer, is the winner today. Your pocket will not be picked.” 12/23/2020

HB 6 Repeal Lite Stalls

December 18, 2020

Among the most anticipated pieces of legislation being considered in the final days of the current legislative session is the repeal of House Bill 6.

On Thursday, Dec. 17, the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight narrowly approved HB 798, sponsored by Rep. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon), as a response to the scandal-ridden HB 6. But HB 798 was not sent to the full House, raising speculation that the House lacked sufficient votes for its approval. Supporters of HB 798 are now attempting to attach it to other House legislation, including House-approved bills pending in conference committee, thereby limiting the opportunity for floor amendments.

The OMA opposes HB 798 and has issued a key vote alert to lawmakers. If you haven’t already done so, communicate your concerns to state senators and representatives — letting them know you oppose efforts to pass HB 798 — and send them the OMA key vote alert. 12/18/2020

Not Too Late to Pass HB 772 to Fix HB 6 Mess

December 18, 2020

As House leaders try to ram through House Bill 798, there has been continued talk about Rep. Mark Romanchuk’s (R-Ontario) repeal variation, House Bill 772. A growing number of House members are joining a bipartisan effort to discharge HB 772 from committee to the House floor, so it may be considered by the full body. The OMA wholeheartedly supports HB 772 and urges members to contact their state representative this weekend (preferably via mobile phone) to urge them to sign the HB 772 discharge petition.

As of the deadline for this Leadership Briefing, the petition had been signed by several representatives. Once it garners 50 signatures, a majority of the 99-seat House, the bill must be considered by the full chamber. The OMA will publish the list of signatures next week. 12/18/2020

More Than 30 Apply to Become Next PUCO Chair

December 18, 2020

Among the 31 individuals who have applied to lead the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) are Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith French and Sen. Sean O’Brien (D-Cortland). Both lost their re-election bids in November — and both are now among the finalists for the PUCO job.

The 12-member PUCO Nominating Council will conduct interviews with the eight finalists Monday, Dec. 21 and then send its recommendations to Gov. Mike DeWine, who will have until Jan. 20 to make a selection. The council’s meeting will be livestreamed on PUCO’s YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, the nominating council announced this week it’s also seeking applications to fill a commissioner seat for the term ending April 10, 2026. Applications are due Jan. 7. 12/15/2020

Northwest Ohio Gets Noticed for Manufacturing-Friendly Energy Infrastructure

December 18, 2020

Northwest Ohio was recently spotlighted by Site Selection magazine for the region’s energy infrastructure and competitive environment for manufacturing. “More than $83 billion has been invested in shale-related development in Ohio from 2011 through 2019, much of which is in Northwest Ohio,” the magazine notes. Read the story here. 12/14/2020

OMA Energy Group Appeals PUCO Decision HB 6 Rider

December 11, 2020

This week, the OMA Energy Group (OMAEG) filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Ohio, objecting to the PUCO’s order that established the House Bill 6 “Clean Air Fund Rider.” This rider (a charge that appears on utility bills) is the mechanism that will provide Ohio’s nuclear plants up to $170 million a year in customer-funded subsidies.

Without legal action or a last-minute act by the General Assembly, the collection of the $170 million in annual, customer-funded HB 6 subsidies will begin in three weeks – on Jan. 1, 2021. OMAEG’s appeal challenges the amount of the subsidies, the rate design of the mechanism collecting the subsidies, and the process by which the PUCO enacted the rate mechanism.

The Dayton Daily News and Hannah News Service provided news coverage of this week’s legal development. The OMA is the only party fighting to protect manufacturers and families from unlawful, unjust and unreasonable charges imposed by HB 6. 12/9/2020

OMA Opposes Lite HB 6 Repeal

December 11, 2020

The OMA presented testimony this week in opposition to HB 798, legislation introduced just days ago to delay the customer-funded subsidies for Ohio’s nuclear power plants. OMA Past Chair David Johnson, president of Summitville Tiles, told members of the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight that HB 798 does not go far enough in protecting customers from the harmful effects of HB 6.

Presenting the OMA’s testimony, Johnson detailed how provisions of the legislation equate to “gifts” to utilities and energy companies financed on the backs of customers. He concluded by urging lawmakers to set aside HB 798 and instead focus on Rep. Mark Romanchuk’s House Bill 772 to protect customers and protect markets. 12/9/2020