Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and 4 others have been charged in a $60 Million bribery case regarding Ohio House Bill 6, which has been under fire since it’s passing. This post shall be a brief overview of HB6 and the controversy surrounding the bill itself. In the next post, we’ll discuss Householder’s involvement and the importance of ethics in energy.
In July 2019, Energy Harbor’s (formerly known as FirstEnergy) two nuclear power plants, the Davis-Besse Plant in Oak Harbor, and the Perry Nuclear Plant in Perry, were set to be the recipients of a subsidy passed in Ohio House Bill 6. HB6 would provide $150 million a year in customer-paid subsidies to the nuclear power plants from 2021 to 2027, and $60 million for two coal power plants owned by Ohio Valley Electric from 2020 to 2030. The bill would add up to cost Ohio citizens $1 billion over the course of six years. It was immediately disputed for being little more than a thinly-veiled corporate bailout.
In Mid-December 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) passed an order to protect the competitive energy market & discourage states from manipulating the energy market by using subsidies and bailouts. The order, titled “Order Establishing Just and Reasonable Rate,” essentially states that out-of-market (i.e. citizen-funded) payments required by states to support the creation or operation of a preferred generation resource (e.g. EnergyHarbor power plants) threatens the competitive energy market. According to an analysis by the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, “FERC’s order is a direct response to a trend of state subsidization of uneconomical power plants, including those benefiting from the recently passed Ohio House Bill 6 (HB6).”
HB6 has continued to be a source of contention in the energy community, political realm, and the public at large since it’s passing. Environmental rights and citizens’ rights groups have lobbied for the bill to be reexamined and many revisions & amendments to the bill have been proposed through the state legislature. No resolution has been reached, but the controversy surrounding Larry Householder has quickly launched HB6 into the national spotlight. Questions regarding the ethics & morals of the energy industry are being raised, and understandably so.