A Senate committee voted to keep a bailout for two nuclear power plants in legislation called the Ohio Clean Air Program, but reduced the bailout funds and added money for wind and solar programs.
The House version of the bill provided bailouts worth nearly $200 million for two nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions that are on the verge of shutting down without additional subsidies. The legislation also gutted all of the funds for wind and solar.
In response to critics, the Senate committee reduced the nuclear bailouts to about $150 million and reinstated wind and solar programs into the plan.
Under the House plan, residential consumers would have had to pay an extra dollar in their utility bills to fund the program, but under the Senate plan, these consumers would have to pay less: an additional 80 cents every month. The Senate plan also reduces the costs on businesses and industries.
The Senate bill also includes an annual audit of the plants. If their finances improve, the subsidies would decrease.
The power plants, the Perry Powerplant in North Perry and the Davis-Besse power plant in Ottawa County, employ about 700 people and 650 people respectively.
The Buckeye Institute, an Ohio-based, free-market think tank, has been fighting the legislation. Robert Alt, president of the institute, said that the Senate version is better than the House version, but that neither are good.
"In its version of House Bill 6, the Ohio Senate wisely adopted two of The Buckeye Institute's recommendations: reducing the surcharges utility customers will be forced to pay to subsidize the failing Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants, and auditing FirstEnergy Solutions to ensure subsidies cover only shortfalls and do not generate profits for the company,” Alt said. “Lest there be any misunderstanding, though, The Buckeye Institute strongly opposes any government (i.e. taxpayer) bailout for any company in any industry at any time for any reason."
Alt said that if the state continues with the bailout plan, it should conduct an audit before any subsidies are granted and remove all “job-killing” renewable energy standards.