When House Bill 6 (HB 6) was first proposed nearly two years ago numerous advocacy groups warned about the many ways this bill would benefit the fossil fuel industry at the expense of the environment and electric ratepayers. The most well-known portion of the bill levied a surcharge on electric bills to raise over a billion dollars a year for subsidies to four electric generating facilities – two coal-fired and two nuclear powered – benefitting mostly one company (First Energy). These plants are so old and obsolete that it costs more to generate electricity than the selling price and they were scheduled to be decommissioned. They are highly polluting and/or unsafe. But the bill passed anyway and First Energy scrapped plans to close them. Earlier this year we learned that $60 million was spent on bribes to Ohio Legislators to help secure passage and, just last week, the Chair of PUCO (Public Utility Commission of Ohio) resigned after his office was raided by federal officials.
For months Ohio Legislators, Governor DeWine and members of his administration have been promising to totally repeal HB 6. But as of this writing it is still on the books, scheduled to go into effect January 1. A majority of the Ohio House and Senate from both parties have co-sponsored the repeal bills but the leadership has refused to put them up for a vote. As far as I know they are still sitting in committee waiting for hearings to be scheduled.
Every environmental group I belong to (and that’s not a small number!) has been trying to unblock the logjam. Citizen action right now is urgently needed. Since HB 6 is due to go into effect January 1 and holiday recesses are imminent, time is short. Since both current Oxford area representatives (Representative Candice Keller and Senator Bill Coley) voted against HB6 originally and neither is on relevant committees, they are not in a position to do much. But several Hamilton and Cincinnati area representatives are in leadership positions on these committees and contacting them and/or Governor DeWine, could be especially useful.
I attended two webinars about this recently and have contact information, voting records, etc., that I can pass along to anyone willing to write letters or make phone calls. Email me.
Thanks for your patience about this — it’s more than an environmental issue; it’s also a social justice issue. It is estimated that HB#6 will “only” cost the average household about $8 a month but that can be a lot to families that are already struggling, especially now. And most of the benefit goes to one large multimillion-dollar corporation!
Submitted by Peggy Branstrator