House Bill 6 - clean air or multi million dollar bailout paid by energy customers?
If the bill passes the rate for all electricity users in Ohio would go up 50 cents a month this year, and 2.50 extra a month next year, the cost for business even more.
Supporters Of House Bill 6 say it would create a fund to support Ohio Clean Air Programs such as Nuclear Energy owned by First Energy Systems. A commercial has been running asking people to call lawmakers to support the bill and jobs.
However lawmakers who oppose it say call lawmakers to let them know you don't support it since it will increase utility bills for all residential and business customers in Ohio. They say the commercial is not coming clean about that the bill really does.
Matt Borges the Director of Roetzel Consulting Services and former Chairman of the Republican Party said, "The Ohio Clean Air program lowers your monthly bills, it promotes clean energy, maintains Ohio's energy diversity, protects jobs, and protects us from harmful effects of doing nothing which would make Ohio's air even dirtier if the state's two nuclear power plants go off line. Ninety percent of zero emission energy that is produced in the state is produced by the two nuclear power plants and it's in everybody's best interest to make sure those plants don't close. If the plants go off line peoples options will be limited and the price of other alternative forms of energy will certainly go up, what you need are options across the landscape to keep the prices down."
But lawmakers say the commercial doesn't come clean about what is really going on.
If the bill passes the rate for all electricity users in Ohio would go up 50 cents a month this year, and 2.50 extra a month next year, the cost for business even more. Opponents add customers bills won't go down and emphasized that is propaganda.
State Representative Mike O'Brien, who is Chairman of the Energy Generation Committee, and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee which is discussing this bill presently. O'Brien said, "This is a bailout plain and simple. What has happened is that First Energy and First Energy Solutions, they're in bankruptcy and they need a bailout. The Ohio General Assembly which is republican controlled had decided everyone who used electricity in Ohio will pay extra on their electric bill. Everyone will pay even if their electricity is not provided by nuclear power plants, everyone in Ohio will have to pay. First Energy has been bailed out before.
O'Brien continued, "Economists throughout the nation have testified in committee that we'll be back here in the same position four or five years again to bail nuclear energy out. It's a very expensive process. We have gas plants that are popping up all over the state, we have in excess of 2,000 years worth of natural gas because of the Marcellus and Utica shale underground. Gas plants are more efficient and a lot cheaper to operate. One plant has been completed in Lordstown and a second is under construction. Gas is the way to go for energy. It emits very, very, very small particles of carbon dioxide. The Pennsylvania legislature saw it was nothing but a bail out and they voted against that. I hope the Ohio lawmakers will see this for what it is a bailout. The people who testified from out of state in favor of the bill all had their travel expenses paid by First Energy. They are asking for hundreds of millions of dollars or 160 million for each of those plants."
State Senator Sean O'Brien added, "This is the only industry known where when your not doing well you don't go to shareholders and have them pay and suffer the losses, you go to the ratepayers and make them pay. This is a bailout for aging and obsolete technology. We have enough energy resources here in Ohio to power our country for over 100 years. It's cheap and it's an Ohio resource. It produces many, many jobs. It's crazy not to use our own resources to power the rest of the state and country."
"People are going to feel the pinch. We already have had an increase in a gas tax, costs of everything keep going up, and we already have people who must decide do they pay their rent, or do they buy their prescriptions, or are they going to be able to eat tonight. People are already hurting and now to raise these rates artificially when they don't need to be done is asking a lot of our people in Ohio. Increasing rates for businesses is also a bad idea which can cost jobs. We will fight against this. People need to contact their lawmakers and let them know they are against this bill."