HB 6 is nothing but bailout bill

DEAR EDITOR:

Confusion exists on Substitute House Bill 6, so-called “Clean Air Program” that bails out FirstEnergy Solutions and eliminates Ohio’s truly “clean air” programs of Renewable Portfolio Standards and Energy Efficiency Standards. The problem stems from $2.4 million spent by FirstEnergy and its allies on misleading ads to persuade constituents that it’s preserving the environment. The real purpose is to give nearly $200 million to FirstEnergy — now in bankruptcy. Incidentally, until FirstEnergy stopped making desired profits, there was no concern nor support for zero emission compensation from either the corporation or the House majority.

Actually, HB 6 increases carbon emissions by foregoing carbon reductions achieved by Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standards and Energy Efficiency Renewable Standards, which would have reduced Ohio’s annual carbon pollution about 10 million tons by 2029 — equal to emissions from annual electricity consumption of a million homes. Instead, the legislation will pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from two 1950s-built coal power plants.

HB 6 mandates a new fee on every Ohio electric utility customer, totaling millions of dollars per year more until 2026. These new fees are on top of what we already pay FirstEnergy. It’s likely electricity consumers will pay current costs plus more to FirstEnergy for years to come.

It’s clear this bill was proposed only to bail out FirstEnergy. It’s ironic a so-called “Clean Air” bill is opposed by Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio Consumers Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law and Policy Center, National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, cities of Warren, Lordstown and more.

Todd Schnitzler, former Ohio Public Utilities Commission chairman, said, “It is clear this bill is not about environmental protection, infrastructure or jobs. This is about propping up uneconomic plants and preventing progress in the state’s energy, economic and environmental goals.”

We know the hardships caused when plants close. I don’t wish that on any citizen. However, there is fundamental unfairness in giving millions to one corporation with 1,350 employees over another corporation such as GM in Lordstown with 15,000 employees.

Nuclear energy is expensive, costing $96 per megawatt hour, versus $9 per megawatt hour for energy efficiency programs and $50 per megawatt hour for wind and solar. Yet we keep costly nuclear plants open and close less expensive renewable energy sources.

Lordstown Energy Center, during construction, employed over 900 union workers. This legislation distorts free market by giving advantage to one energy source over others. It hurts plentiful and inexpensive local gas industry, which made tremendous strides in reducing emissions, along with renewable clean energy industry. Misleading ads implied it would take “courage” for me to vote yes on HB 6. Rather, it would take closing my eyes to the legislation’s injustice. I had courage to vote no. This was nothing but a bailout of failing nuclear plants.

STATE REP. MICHAEL O’BRIEN

Warren

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