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This month the Ohio Senate’s Energy and Public Utilities Committee held the second hearing for a bipartisan billthat would repeal yet another unnecessary ratepayer-funded bailout implemented by the historically corrupt HB 6. SB 117 ends the costly bailouts going to two Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) coal plants – one called Kyger Creek, which is in Ohio and another called Clifty Creek, which is in Indiana. For anyone who needs a visual aid of how Ohio is different from Indiana, I recommend looking at a map and checking it out, especially if you’re a Republican state legislator.

SB 117 would help restore a level playing fieldto Ohio’s energy sector – as well as integrity to our Statehouse – both of which were decimated by the HB 6 scandal. Fortunately, the SB 117 hearing brought out a wide array of proponents from Ohio’s various political corners, as many advocates spoke (or wrote) in favor of SB 117. From progressive groups like Ohio Citizen Action and the Sierra Club’s Ohio Chapter, to more neutral groups such as AARP and the Ohio Manufacturers Association, all the way to those “wacky” libertarian organizations like Americans for Prosperity and the Libertarian Party of Ohio (the latter of which was represented by myself!) these nice folks stand together as a multi-partisan alliance to keep repealing all parts of HB 6.

In that light, it’s worth commending the bipartisan team behind SB 117 – Senators Mark Romanchuk and Hearcel Craig – for joining forces on this issue. Senator Romanchuk was one of the few Republicans who tried to right the wrongs of HB 6 while he was in the House and will hopefully have more success in the slightly-less-scandal-ridden Senate. When I testified in front of the House’s Energy Committee in December on a different bill, I said, “Conservatives need to be more like Teddy Roosevelt, because conservation is conservative,” and Senator Romanchuk nodded in agreement, which I appreciated. As for Senator Craig, it’s always an honor to know that he represents myself and the good people of Bexley in the Ohio Senate. While I did get a “REPEAL HB6” facemask to Senator Craig’s office last year for him to potentially wear, I’m not mad if he didn’t wear it, because it would be a bigger crime to cover up the best mustache in Ohio Statehouse history.

After all, cover ups never go well when it comes to the Ohio Statehouse. As we found out in July 2020, HB 6 was the culmination of a shady group of energy companies, lawmakers and lobbyists allegedly spending $60 million in dark money on statehouse races to secure a $1.5 billion bailout from the legislature, all to be paid for by Ohio’s ratepayers. At first, three of Ohio’s electric utilities – AEP, Duke and Dayton Power & Light – opposed HB 6 because only FirstEnergy and Energy Harbor got a bailout for their Davis Besse and Perry nuclear plants. But after the Ohio legislature offered a bailout for OVEC’s two failing coal plants as well, the companies decided to support the corrupt bill. Sure enough, it passed.

In 2020, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) carried out an independent audit of the OVEC bailout, which confirmed it was a bad investment and that with increased capital investment, the costs would only go up more. The auditor also found the OVEC coal plants were being run at times when costs were even higher for customers, meaning Ohioans would save money if the plants weren’t running at all. The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel says ratepayers have now paid $112 million towards the coal plants since January 2020 and before that, $159 million was paid in other subsidies from 2012-2019. The Ohio Manufacturers Association calculates that a total of $700 million in ratepayer money will continue to go to the OVEC coal plants by the end of 2030, with $233,000 more rolling in everyday. So much for fiscal conservatism from the Ohio Republican Party’s supermajority in the Statehouse.

While some state representatives in the House may have been fine sending Ohio ratepayers’ hard earned money to Indiana (which again, is different from Ohio) I hope the level-headed folks in the Ohio Senate (on both sides) will do the right thing for Ohioans, by supporting SB 117 and continuing to repeal all parts of HB 6. Ohio recently “earned” the undesirable honor of being the worst state for public corruptionin the nation, so if we want to make sure the elongated tentacles of HB 6 will not be a stain on the 134th Ohio General Assembly – or our entire state – we need to let our state senators know that we won’t stand for bad energy policies made through corruption any longer. Tell them to support SB 117.