Senate Nuclear Subsidies Plan Ends Energy Efficiency Requirements
A new version of the comprehensive energy bill, HB6, was introduced in the Ohio Senate on Monday that would charge residential ratepayers $0.85 a month on their electric bills to bail out the state's two nuclear power plants.
That fee, along with charges to commercial and industrial users, would generate $170 million. Of that money, $150 million would go to the state's two nuclear plants and the other $20 million would be directed to existing solar farms.
The bill, which has seen many drafts since being introduced, keeps renewable standards around until 2026. The standards require utilities to put a certain amount of renewable energy into their portfolio. The final benchmark would mandate that 8.5% of energy on a utility's portfolio come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar. Sen. Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) says the efficiency standard will remain at 17.5% by 2020, which means the utilities must achieve 17.5% in saved energy. But Wilson says, "When they reach the 17.5%, then energy efficiency [standard] ceases.”
Supporters of efficiency standards say they’ve helped save ratepayers nearly $5 billion in 10 years.
“Eliminating energy efficiency guarantees that electricity customers in Ohio will pay more on their monthly electric bills,” says Dan Sawmiller, Natural Resources Defense Council’s Ohio Energy Policy Director. “Adding insult to injury, the money that funded the efficiency programs is being diverted to bail out coal plants from the 1950s.”
Sawmiller is referring to a provision in the bill that allows utilities to charge ratepayers up to $1.50 for subsidies towards the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation. OVEC runs two coal plants, Kyger Creek (Gallia County) and Clifty Creek (Madison, IN)
The bill requires the nuclear power plants, which are currently run by FirstEnergy Solutions, to apply for the subsidies through the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority. Through that application process, any trade secrets or proprietary information will be confidential and not subject to public records laws.
FirstEnergy Solutions is filing for bankruptcy after breaking away from FirstEnergy Corporation. Last year, FirstEnergy Solutions announced that it would close its two nuclear power plants; Davis-Besse and Perry, unless the company received some type of legislative relief.