Ohio Senate Repeals Subsidies for Nuclear Power Plants

COLUMBUS – The Ohio State Senate Wednesday voted to repeal ratepayer subsidies for two aging nuclear power plants operated by a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy.

The bill removes subsidies that were initially enacted in 2019 under House Bill 6, which has become the center of an investigation involving a corrupt lobbying scheme allegedly masterminded by former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford).

“Last General Assembly, I, and my constituents, had serious concerns about the provisions included in House Bill 6, which is why I voted no on that legislation,” state Sen. Michael Rulli, R-Salem, said in a statement. “By repealing the nuclear subsidy, this bill is an important step to fixing some of those issues and saving money for ratepayers, protecting Ohio jobs, and providing a clear path forward.”

Rulli and state Sen. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, co-sponsored the Senate legislation. The bill will now be sent to the House for consideration.

Prosecutors say that a utility, believed to be FirstEnergy Corp., contributed millions of dollars to a dark money group known as Generation Now that Householder controlled. Investigators say that Householder used the money to fund his bid for Speaker of the House so he could push HB 6 through the legislature.

The bill assessed rate hikes to customers over a seven-year period that would mostly be used to help former First Energy subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions’ two struggling nuclear power plants – the Davis-Besse plant and the Perry nuclear plant. FirstEnergy Solutions has since been renamed Energy Harbor.

Repealing the subsidy saves Ohio ratepayers more than $1 billion over seven years, Rulli said. It would also preserve the jobs of those working at electrical plants that produce zero emissions.

“This bill is a win-win for everyday Ohioans, ensuring that utility rates stay low, while supporting reliable, cost-effective energy options for residents and businesses across Ohio,” Cirino said in a statement.

Householder and four other associates were indicted on bribery charges last summer in what prosecutors called the largest corruption scandal in the state’s history – estimated at $60.3 million.

Generation Now has pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering and said it would forfeit $1.57 million in a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. Last year, lobbyist Juan Cespedes and Jeffery Longstreth, a representative of Generation Now, also pleaded guilty to racketeering.

Householder and lobbyists Matt Borges and Neil Clark have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

While Householder was removed as Speaker, he remains a member of the Ohio House.

Pictured: Davis-Besse plant. (Image via Nuclear Regulatory Commission/public domain.)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.