A controversial energy bill will likely get a big makeover this week in the Ohio Senate, with changes to help renewable energy, cut rates for consumers and keep open two nuclear power plants, said Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina.
“It’s a complex issue. It’s probably a combination of several complex issues but I think we’ve made some pretty good progress in the short time that we’ve had the bill,” he said.
Obhof said he hopes a substitute bill will be introduced either today or tomorrow.
In its current form, House Bill 6, which cleared the House on May 29 on a 53-43 vote, seeks to gut renewable energy standards and energy efficiency programs that have been in place for a decade, add monthly fees of $1 for residential, $10 for commercial, $250 for industrial and $2,500 for large energy users’ electric bills to bailout nuclear power plants, and add monthly fees to help two coal-fired plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corp.
Environmental groups oppose elimination of the renewable and energy efficiency standards. Free market advocates oppose government subsidies for specific industries or companies.
The bill has been the focus of intense lobbying and more than $7 million on TV and other ads that seek to sway lawmakers and the public.
First Energy Solutions, which is in bankruptcy proceedings, announced plans to close its nuclear power plants along Lake Erie unless it gets government subsidies. FES wants lawmakers to take action soon, before it needs to order re-supply materials.
Obhof said senators don’t want to rush but recognize that FES needs an answer by early August.