Ohio Republicans pass energy bill subsidizing nuclear power, reducing efficiency standards

September 8, 2019 by Ben Marquis

It has been made clear in recent years that the left views the topic of man-made climate change with a near-religious fervency, and those who don’t share that intensely serious view — or worse, work at cross-purposes against it — are often looked upon as misguided non-believers, if not downright evil heretics.

Such is the case in Ohio, where the left is up in arms over an energy bill passed by the Republican-controlled legislature — and signed into law by the Republican governor — that makes some significant changes to the state’s energy policies.

Leftists outraged

Leftist media outlet Vox decried the legislation out of Ohio as “an enormous step backward” in terms of the fight against climate change. The outlet called the bill the “most counterproductive and corrupt piece of state energy legislation” of the modern era.

Known as HB 6, but also referred to as the “Ohio Clean Air Program,” the bill made four substantial changes to the state’s existing energy policies: namely, subsidizing two nuclear plants and two coal plants, as well as reducing statewide requirements for renewable energy production and energy efficiency standards.

Climate change-obsessed progressives took issue with the fact that the law would not only prop up four power plants deemed to be uncompetitive — and in the case of the coal-fired plants, unnecessary — but also remove incentives to pursue more efficient or renewable sources of energy.

The nitty-gritty

With respect to the “bailout” subsidizing of the power plants, Ohio energy consumers will begin to pay additional monthly surcharges on their energy bills in 2021 and for the next six years after that. For the two nuclear plants — one outside of Toledo, the other near Cleveland — residential consumers will pay an extra 85 cents per month, while large industrial consumers could see an increased rate up to $2,400.

It is estimated that the surcharge will raise about $170 million per year, with $150 million of that going to the two nuclear plants and the remaining $20 million being split among six solar panel projects.

For the two coal-fired plants, residential ratepayers will see an additional $1.50 surcharge on their monthly bill, while the industrial customers will pay upwards of $1,500 more per month. The unspecified amount raised from those surcharges will be split between two coal plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, one located in Ohio and the other across the border in Indiana.

As for the reduced standards, there had been a requirement that state utilities derive at least 12.5% of the energy produced from renewable sources by 2027, but the bill reduced that threshold to just 8.5% by 2026.

With regard to the efficiency standards, Ohio utilities had been required to reduce the 2008 level of consumer consumption of energy by 22% before 2027. That standard has now been reduced to 17.5%, a level that most of the utilities have already reached.

Gotta keep the lights on

Vox claimed there was a “tsunami of dark money” that flowed into Ohio in support of the energy bill, which faced staunch opposition from most Democrats and various activist groups, as well as consumers who simply didn’t want to pay the additional surcharges — even though the additional funds would help keep reliable energy production going in the state for the foreseeable future.

To be sure, few on either side of the ideological divide are fans of bailouts, and it would be nice if the government would stay out of the way and let market forces decide which companies survive or fail. That said, keeping the lights on sometimes requires a helping hand from the government — and despite the wails and moans from the left about climate change, that is what the Republican legislators of Ohio had in mind with this energy bill.

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