"If opponents successfully place the issue on the November 2020 ballot, political consultants are expecting an expensive advertising campaign that could dwarf the approximately $15 million total spent by campaigns on both sides of the issue aimed at voter awareness of the position of their representatives and senators.
The long-rumored referendum petition appears to have been anticipated by the GOP majority, which pushed for passage of HB 6.
Approved Tuesday in the GOP dominated Ohio House by a 51 to 38 vote, mostly along partisan lines, the measure would provide FirstEnergy Solutions, owner of two Ohio nuclear plants, with about $1.1 billion through 2027, rather than through 2026 as originally planned.
The extra year means the company would not lose a year of payments if the law does not go into effect until November 2020, provided that voters reject the potential ballot initiative."
— John Funk, Utility Dive
'"We are bailing out a corporation, a failing corporation,' while harming the growing wind and solar industries, said Rep. Casey Weinstein, a Democrat.
He said the legislation would steer solar and wind investment away from Ohio and toward neighboring states such as Michigan. Other states, including South Carolina and Georgia, are being much more forward thinking about renewable energy, he said.
The Ohio Senate passed the bill 19-12 last week, but the House put off its vote until Tuesday because several lawmakers were absent and the bill would not have passed without them.
DeWine's office went so far as to approve the use of state aircraft to pick up two lawmakers from a conference in Chicago so they would be in Columbus for the Tuesday vote, though that flight plan was eventually canceled when the lawmakers determined they could drive back."
— Dan Gearino, InsideClimate News
"The Nature Conservancy said Ohio lawmakers missed an opportunity to develop a comprehensive energy policy.
'HB 6 is a step back from what we have currently in statute for the clean energy standards. This is not a comprehensive energy bill. Instead, this bill compromises successful policies that have supported renewable energy and energy efficiency to provide a legislative vehicle for a nuclear and coal bailout,' the group said in a statement.
Nuclear advocates cheered the bill's passage.
'Today's decision echoes support we've seen in New Jersey, New York, Illinois and Connecticut and reaffirms the major role nuclear carbon free energy has in lowering carbon emissions,' Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said in a statement.
The Ohio Consumers' Counsel and the Ohio Manufacturers' Association urged the governor for a veto, condemning the measure in a joint statement as 'the latest and maybe the worst of the retreats from competitive markets undertaken by the Ohio legislature' in the 20 years since the state embarked on deregulation.
Other groups that opposed the bill continue to look for ways to reverse the governor's action.
'We are open to all options, including a voter referendum, to kill this costly bailout bill and get Ohio back on track as a clean energy leader,' Dick Munson, director of regulatory and legislative affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund, told Utility Dive via email."
— John Funk, Utility Dive
"'In a written statement, FirstEnergy Solutions said it’s still optimistic about the nuclear subsidies bill passing, and if it does it will reevaluate their options. The statement goes on to say that the company remains committed to the process, which results in an 'increased financial burden associated with missing the June 30 fuel purchasing deadline.'"
Tracy Sabetta, a consultant for the Ohio Consumers Power Alliance, has her own take on this statement.
'So the deadline was important but they will still happily take the money from consumers as long as the Legislature passes something soon,' says Sabetta.
Her group is against the bill and says it’s important for the Senate to take more time to look over the possible changes, given there are 50 proposed amendments.
'So I applaud the Senate for taking that step back and looking for ways to make this bill better rather than just catering to the deadline set by the corporation that stands to benefit the most from the legislation,' Sabetta says.
The House and Senate held sessions over the weekend, a rare move in the Legislature, to try to hash out a budget compromise. At the same time, the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee was holding hearings on the energy bill."
- Andy Chow, Statehouse News Bureau