The Ohio General Assembly has 38 days to pass a two-year state operating budget; the current one expires on June 30. If the past is any guide, the Ohio Senate and House, amid customary theaters, will meet the deadline.
Meanwhile, lawmakers may (or may not) end their role-play on House Bill 6, the law of 2019, signed by Governor Mike DeWine, which aimed to attract hundreds of millions of dollars from service consumers. Ohio governments to subsidize the Perry and Davis-Besse. nuclear center.
HB 6 passed with the help of votes from three Democratic senators, including Cleveland mayoral candidate Sandra Williams and Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, of Richmond Heights; and nine House Democrats, including Reps Terrence Upchurch, of Cleveland, and Tavia Galonski, of Akron.
Two months ago, in a bipartisan act of contrition, lawmakers unanimously “repealed” HB 6 – except that the repealer, House Bill 128, was really not: even Energy Harbor Corp., which owns the Perry and Davis-Besse plants, argued for repeal because federal energy regulators now oppose nuclear subsidies. So: Voting to “repeal” HB 6 was about as hard as voting “yes” on Mother’s Day.
But Internal bill 128 did not repeal the millions of dollars that Ohio electricity consumers have to pay to bail out two money-losing coal-fired power plants (one in Indiana) whose owners include American Electric Power Co., Duke Energy Corp. and AES Ohio (Dayton Power & Light Co.).
The House Utilities Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Hoops, a Republican of Napoleon, in a parliamentary maneuver, refused (9 to 8) to remove the coal subsidies.
Besides Hoops, the other committee members who voted to continue forcing Ohio electricity consumers to subsidize coal-fired power plants that burn money were fellow Republican Rep. Sharon Ray of Wadsworth; Bob Young of Green; Dick Stein of Norwalk; Cindy Abrams from the suburbs of Cincinnati; Thomas Brinkman of Cincinnati; Rick Carfagna from the township of Genoa on the outskirts of Columbus; William Seitz from suburb of Cincinnati; and Jason Stephens of Kitts Hill, County Lawrence.
The six Democrats on the Hoops Committee voted to end subsidies to coal-fired power plants, plus Republican Representatives Thomas Patton of Strongsville and Laura Lanese of Grove City.
The March “repealer” also left in place this brazenly unfair Ohio legal doctrine: If courts kill an increase in utility rates, the Ohio Utilities Commission had accepted (surprise), surcharges are not refunded to consumers; the utility keeps the money.
Here’s what Paul E. Pfeifer, Bucyrus’ Republican then on the Ohio Supreme Court, wrote in 2014 regarding the Ohio Non-Refund Doctrine, which dates from a 1957 ruling in Keco Industries v. Cincinnati & Suburban Bell Telephone: “It is unacceptable that a public service [American Electric Power] should be able to keep $ 368 million that it collected from consumers based on unwarranted assumptions, ”Pfeifer wrote.
This is true, but it is Ohio law, which House Bill 128 – HB 6 “repeals” – has not been touched.
On the positive side, a bipartisan group of House members are sponsoring Internal bill 260, which would demand refunds from consumers when the Supreme Court overturns a rate hike approved by PUCO.
The main sponsors of HB 260 are Lanese, the Republican of Grove City; and Rep. Daniel Troy, a Democrat from Willowick. In his testimony, Troy cited data from the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel showing that, since 2009, Ohio’s anti-refund doctrine has denied Ohio utility consumers a refund of $ 1.5 billion. dollars.
“It is high time for the General Assembly to address this unwarranted and utterly confusing practice of refusing reimbursement of poorly received rates and reimbursing the people of Ohio.” Troy testified. Co-sponsors of the Lanese-Troy rebate bill include Representatives Michael Skindell, a Democrat from Lakewood; Republican Gayle Manning, of North Ridgeville; and Democratic representatives: Jeffrey Crossman, of Parma, and Michael O’Brien, of Warren. The reimbursement bill is pending at the hoops committee.
Meanwhile: Despite HB 6 fiasco, state Senate committee could act favorably on anti-solar and anti-wind energy Senate Bill 52. In short, when allies as unlikely as the Ohio Manufacturers Association and American Electric Power and Ohio Citizen Action, the pro-consumer lobby, all oppose a bill – and they oppose SB 52 – so maybe, just maybe, SB 52 is really bad news – even by the elastic “standards” of the Ohio General Assembly.
Thomas Suddes, member of the editorial board, writes from Athens.
To reach Thomas Suddes: [email protected], 216-408-9474
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