Ohio Gov. Calls to “Repeal and Replace” Scandal-Tainted Nuclear Bailout Bill

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is calling for state lawmakers to
“repeal and replace” a 2019 law directing more than a billion
dollars in subsidies to nuclear power plants, after one of his
senior staffers was linked to a nonprofit group that federal
prosecutors allege played a role in�a
bribery scheme
 embroiling Ohio politicians and utility
FirstEnergy.

DeWine’s call to overturn House Bill 6 at a
Thursday
 press conference came just a day after he expressed
support
 for the law, saying it is needed to retain zero-carbon
energy output — and several thousands of jobs — from the
Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants. FirstEnergy Solutions,
the FirstEnergy subsidiary that owns the plants, filed
for bankruptcy
 in 2018 and threatened to close them unless it
received state aid. 

DeWine’s change of heart on Thursday came hours after
reports
 that DeWine’s director of legislative affairs, Dan
McCarthy, was the principal of Partner for Progress, a 501C(4)
believed to be one of the “pass-through entities†that funneled
money to Generation Now, a nonprofit group that federal prosecutors
say served at the heart of a criminal conspiracy organized by Ohio
House Speaker Larry Householder. 

Householder was arrested
Tuesday
 on charges of masterminding the funneling of $61
million from FirstEnergy to Generation Now. That money funded
election campaigns in exchange for lawmakers’ support of his 2018
election to the Speaker’s seat and the narrow
passage
 of House Bill 6 last year. The money also went to
suppress a popular
referendum effort
 seeking to overturn House Bill 6, as well as
to pay for Householder’s legal and campaign fees and a house in
Florida, prosecutors say. 

House Bill 6 gutted Ohio’s energy efficiency
and renewable
 energy standards. It also increased FirstEnergy
ratepayer subsidies to direct hundreds of millions of dollars per
year to support the two nuclear plants, as well as coal plants that
provide power to Ohio customers. FirstEnergy Solutions,
which emerged from bankruptcy under the new name Energy Harbor in
February, is expected to receive about $1.2 billion in nuclear
subsidies.

U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers said at a Tuesday press
conference that the investigation, which has so far led to the
arrest of Householder and four other men, is “by no means
over.†FirstEnergy, referred to as “Company A” in the complaint
filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of
Ohio, revealed Tuesday that it has been issued a subpoena related
to the investigation. FirstEnergy shares fell from $41.26 at the
close of Monday trading to $27.33 at the end of trading
Thursday. 

McCarthy, Gov. DeWine’s staffer, hasn’t been accused of
wrongdoing in the complaint, and DeVillers said Tuesday that
members of DeWine’s administration have not been implicated in
the investigation.

It’s still unclear if Ohio’s Republican-controlled
legislature will take up a repeal of House Bill 6, but lawmakers
from both parties have already begun preparing legislation
to overturn
 the law. The bill passed the state Senate on a
19-12 vote and the House of Representatives on a 51-38 vote. Most
of the votes for the bill came from Republicans, but a number of
Democrats also supported it. 

“Support of HB 6 will very likely be a wedge issue for Ohioans
this November when all House seats are up for grabs, as well as 16
Senate seats,†Rob Rains, analyst for Washington Analysis, wrote
in a Thursday briefing. Republicans now control the House by a
61-38 margin and the Senate by a 24-9 margin.  

Rains added that Democratic lawmakers may seek to reinstate the
energy efficiency and renewable energy mandates undone by House
Bill 6, as well as undo restrictive zoning provisions for wind
turbines passed in 2014 that have stymied wind power development in
the state. 

“The legislative push to bail out legacy generation and roll
back Ohio’s renewable energy commitments was always against the
will of Ohioans, who overwhelmingly support renewable energy,â€
Andrew Gohn,  eastern state affairs director for the American Wind
Energy Association (AWEA), said in a Tuesday statement. 

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Ohio Gov. Calls to “Repeal and Replace” Scandal-Tainted
Nuclear Bailout Bill