(The Center Square) – State lawmakers are moving to repeal a bill that authorized a $1.3 billion ratepayer-funded bailout of a pair of nuclear power plants in Ohio.
House Bill 6 created a new Ohio Clean Air Program to support nuclear energy plants and some solar power facilities. Electricity consumers fund the program, which could bring in up to $85 million in the 2021 fiscal year, with a surcharge that runs through 2027.
The bill faces new scrutiny following the Tuesday arrest of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, and four others as part of a federal racketeering probe.
“Corruption has no place in our government, regardless of political party. When corruption is revealed, it is important we act quickly to fix what has been broken,” state Rep. Michael J. Skindell, D-Lakewood, said in a statement.
Skindell is introducing a measure to repeal HB 6 along with state Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Warren.
Republicans are expected to announce their own plans to repeal the bill on Thursday.
On Tuesday, federal authorities charged Householder with creating an “enterprise” that received $60 million “from an energy company and its affiliates” – seemingly Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. – to help pass HB 6 and thwart a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation.
Lawmakers pushed the measure after Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions said it planned to close a pair of nuclear plants – Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor near Toledo and Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Perry. FirstEnergy Solutions filed for bankruptcy in March 2018 and emerged earlier this year as Energy Harbor.
On Tuesday, its former parent company, FirstEnergy Corp, “received subpoenas in connection with the investigation surrounding Ohio House Bill 6,” the company said in a statement.
“This legislation raised serious concerns when it was introduced last year and it’s now clear that bribery and corruption were involved in its passage,” state Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Avondale, said in a statement. “We must immediately repeal House Bill 6 because hardworking Ohioans should not continue to fund this fraudulent scheme any longer. A few elected officials betrayed public trust and the legislature must act swiftly to restore it.”
The chorus of calls for Householder to resign has continued to grow, but the speaker told WSYX-TV he would not leave.
Gov. Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Attorney General Dave Yost, all Republicans, are among those calling for Householder to resign.