News and Analysis
Also this week, the OMA Vice President and Managing Director of Public Policy Services Ryan Augsburger discussed the importance of state energy policy and recent developments in Ohio as a guest on Lincoln Radio Journal’s “Capitol Watch,” moderated by Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association President David Taylor. 8/6/2020
According to newly published data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 121 U.S. coal-fired power plants — mostly in the eastern half of the country — were repurposed to burn other types of fuels between 2011 and 2019. Of these plants, 103 were converted to or replaced by natural gas-fired plants, including five plants in Ohio. 8/5/2020
A joint briefing of the OMA Energy Committee and Government Affairs Committee was held July 28 to address recent events surrounding former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, who’s facing federal racketeering charges related to the nuclear bailout (House Bill 6) he pushed last year.
After hearing a summary of the federal complaint against Householder and four others — as well as a report on recent Statehouse activity following the charges — members reviewed the harmful provisions in HB 6 and discussed options to make Ohio’s energy law more transparent for the benefit of electric consumers.
OMA Government Affairs Committee Chair Scott Corbitt, region vice president for Anheuser-Busch, told nearly 125 attendees the association has the “opportunity to be transformational” in Ohio’s energy policy as lawmakers re-examine HB 6. OMA Energy Committee Chair Brad Belden, president of Belden Brick, thanked OMA members who testified against HB 6 during last year’s hearings and encouraged more members to get involved.
Email Ryan Augsburger, the OMA’s managing director of public policy services, to learn how you can take an active role in the reform efforts. 7/28/2020
Many Ohio lawmakers are clamoring to repeal and replace House Bill 6, the bailout for nuclear power plants. But what does that mean? Significant data was ignored by policymakers when the bill was rocketed through the legislative process just one year ago. Many anti-market provisions of the law were not well understood when HB 6 was debated.
A key reason for support of HB 6 was to protect the jobs and carbon-free generation of First Energy’s two nuclear generation plants. But the finances of the plants were never examined in the legislative process. Was there really a need for subsidies? Read more in this OMA memorandum. 7/30/2020
Before the Ohio House adjourned for summer recess, members approved House Bill 104, the Advanced Nuclear Technology Helping Energize Mankind (ANTHEM) Act. On July 21, as former Speaker Larry Householder was being arrested, the sponsor of HB 104 delivered testimony before the Senate Public Utilities Committee.
The bill is intended to spur research and development of largely unproven molten salt and thorium nuclear reactors. In doing so, HB 104 would establish an unwise and elaborate state agency that would take regulatory authority away from professional agencies — including the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission — and instead place it under the Ohio Department of Commerce, which has no expertise in this arena. Moreover, the bill would empower bureaucrats at this new agency to act in the place of the governor in approving joint-development agreements.
The new agency would have some influence over nuclear plant decommissioning plans, according to an analysis prepared for the OMA. “Of special note is that Ohio’s two nuclear power plants are required to maintain decommissioning funds, and that whether their decommissioning plans were fully funded was a point of contention in the recent FirstEnergy Solutions (now Energy Harbor) bankruptcy.” 7/30/2020
A new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) shows Ohio ranked tenth in energy production in 2018, the latest year of data available. Check out the EIA’s 2018 primary energy production estimates for all states for both fossil fuels and renewables, as well as Ohio’s updated energy profile. 7/27/2020
U.S. energy consumption dropped to its lowest level in more than 30 years this spring due to coronavirus-related shutdowns, according to a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Overall, U.S. energy consumption dropped 14% during April compared to a year earlier — the largest decrease since data collection began in 1973. 7/30/2020
Nearly a year ago, state lawmakers approved House Bill 6 to provide guaranteed income — a bailout — to Ohio’s two nuclear power plants. The OMA opposed the measure due to its harmful economic impact on manufacturers, including the following provisions:
- $150 million a year in new subsidies for nuclear power from 2021 through 2026;
- An extension of subsidies for legacy, uneconomic coal plants in Indiana and Ohio, which will cost Ohioans tens of millions of dollars each year through 2030;
- $20 million a year for select solar power projects from 2021 through 2026; and
- Likely removes significant portions of Ohio generation and consumer load from competitive wholesale capacity auctions.
Other key reasons the OMA opposed HB 6 are in this memo documenting its impact on manufacturers. 7/24/2020
Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday told reporters he supports “repealing and replacing” the controversial House Bill 6 — Ohio’s nuclear bailout law approved last year. He said he still supports the underlying policy, but that the process leading to its passage “forever tainted the bill and now the law itself.” The governor said HB 6 should be revisited with legislation that is transparent in its implementation.
On Thursday, July 23, a group of legislators from both chambers held a press conference and announced a bipartisan effort to repeal HB 6. Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) said the bill has up to 33 co-sponsors in the 99-member House. He was joined by Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City), a member of House leadership. Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) is working on a Senate version with Sen. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta). 7/24/2020
The EIA reports that in the first half of 2020, natural gas prices at the U.S. Henry Hub benchmark reached record lows. The average monthly spot price in the first six months of the year was $1.81 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). Monthly prices reached a low of $1.63/MMBtu in June, the lowest monthly inflation-adjusted price since at least 1989. 7/20/2020