Householder Trial Is a Reminder: HB 6 Was (and Still Is) Bad Energy Policy
This week, the public corruption trial of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former FirstEnergy lobbyist Matt Borges got underway in Cincinnati. Householder is accused of receiving $61 million in bribes in exchange for passing House Bill 6, often referred to as the $1 billion nuclear bailout bill.
Opposed by the OMA after its introduction in April 2019, HB 6 was more than just a ratepayer-funded bailout of two nuclear plants. It also included:
Customer-funded subsidies for two coal-fired power plants (one in Indiana) owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC), which is comprised of more than a dozen utility companies. The subsidy, which is still in effect, could cost Ohio customers $1.8 billion by 2030, according to an OMA study. Customers have already paid roughly $190 million, according to this counter.
HB 6’s decoupling mechanism, which allowed FirstEnergy to guarantee itself revenue, was repealed by House Bill 128 in 2021. The provision would have increased some Ohioans’ electricity bills by $85 million annually. Some decoupling refunds have been issued, as required by HB 128.
HB 6’s “significantly excessive earnings test” (SEET) shielded FirstEnergy from up to $50 million in customer refunds owed for 2017-2019. The SEET provision was also repealed by HB 128. The OMA was a party to a $306 million settlement in 2021 that was partly based on the PUCO’s interpretation of the SEET.
See this timeline of HB 6 and the events leading up to the Householder case, published by the Statehouse News Bureau. 1/26/2023