Senate Amendments to HB 6 Raise More Questions

During this week’s debate on HB 6, a floor amendment was added to delay the bill’s subsidy collections and payments to power plants by one year (until 2021). This raises further questions about the need for the bill. For weeks, nuke plant owners contended that customer funds were needed by July 17 to prevent the plants from decommissioning.

Others have questioned the wisdom of passing a “bailout” now, considering the state could wait for the FirstEnergy Solutions bankruptcy proceedings to be completed soon so that lawmakers would be able to see the real financial need, if any. The OMA’s profitability analysis finds that the nuke plants are in fact going to be profitable after bankruptcy.

Before advancing HB 6 to the full Senate, the Energy and Public Utilities Committee adopted several other amendments — some of which add financial protections for utilities at ratepayers’ expense, such as the new decoupling mechanism and OVEC revision. A provision was also inserted to allow mid-sized industrial customers to opt-out of paying the energy efficiency rider, but the benefit is fleeting since utility-managed energy efficiency programs will be discontinued under the bill. Also of interest was an added provision allowing mercantile customers to enter into power purchase agreements with distribution utility companies.

The OMA Energy Group will be reviewing all the Senate changes at their July meeting. 7/18/2019