What is House Bill 6, law tied to $60M bribery allegations?

Plumes of water vapor drift from the cooling tower of FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. Associated Press
Plumes of water vapor drift from the cooling tower of FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. Associated Press

Credit: Schaffer, Paul (CMG-Dayton)

Credit: Schaffer, Paul (CMG-Dayton)

What is House Bill 6?

Introduced in April 2019 and signed into law by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in July 2019, it makes several changes to Ohio’s energy law. It waters down renewable energy standards that had been in place for a decade. It provides two bailouts: one for the Ohio Valley Electric Corp., which is partially owned by DP&L, AEP and others; and another bailout for Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions, which owns two aging nuclear power plants along Lake Erie. FirstEnergy Solutions emerged from bankruptcy and is now named Harbor Energy.

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Who does it impact?

Ohio’s 4.8 million electricity ratepayers.

How much will it cost Ohio consumers?

It depends on where you live in Ohio. Weakening the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs will cut direct costs on consumer bills but Ohioans will forego savings they might have achieved by taking advantage of weatherization, insulation, appliance replacement and other energy conservation programs. The Ohio Valley Electric Corp charge is $1.50 per month for residential customers for an additional six years. The nuclear power bailout fee is 85 cents per month for residential customers. All told, customers will pay more than $1 billion for the bailouts.

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Who favored it?

House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, championed the bill, but it had support from Senate Republicans and Gov. Mike DeWine as well. FirstEnergy Solutions was among the biggest backers.

Who opposed it?

Environmental groups didn’t like that the renewable end energy efficiency standards were scaled back. Consumer advocates didn’t like the riders being added to customer bills. Free market groups didn’t like government favoring certain companies over others.

Who paid for ads for and against House Bill 6?

At least four dark money groups fought for and against the measure.

Supporters of HB6 spent more than $16 million on advertising to get the bill passed and stop the referendum, according to Medium Buying, a firm that tracks ad buys. Opponents of HB6 spent more than $4 million, according to the firm. Those figures do not include money spent on lobbyists, political strategists or petition circulators.

Generation Now spent $9.5 million on ads to sway the public and lawmakers to favor HB6. Generation Now, a 501(c)(4) that’s not connected to a Cincinnati charity with a similar name, has ties to Growth & Opportunities, a political action committee that supported Republican Larry Householder’s effort to return as House speaker.

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In July 2019, opponents launched Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts to try to put the new law up for a referendum vote in November 2020. Facing an aggressive counter-campaign, the group failed to gather the required valid voter signatures. Ohioans for Energy Security ran the counter-campaign to dissuade people from signing the petitions. The group is behind mailers and TV ads that warned Ohioans that the Chinese are trying to infiltrate the power grid and take voters’ personal information.

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