Home Opinion OPINION: Democrats Discuss — The problem with House Bill 6

OPINION: Democrats Discuss — The problem with House Bill 6

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Meghann Crowley is a member of the Ohio University College Democrats. She is a sophomore studying communication. The following article reflects the opinion and views of the author and does not present those of the Ohio University College Democrats. 

Please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political.

On July 23, 2019, Gov. Mike DeWine signed Ohio House Bill 6 into law, yet most people have no idea what it exactly entails. HB 6, which is also called the Ohio Clean Air Program, imposes a monthly fee to all investor-owned utility ratepayers. This means that if you get electricity from American Electric Power, Dayton Power & Light, FirstEnergy or Duke, you are billed a monthly fee that would be distributed back to said companies.

While this seems like just another bill that was passed into law, there is much more behind it. After a $100 million campaign, FirstEnergy secured another bailout from the Ohio legislature, creating HB 6. Once it passed, it approved bailouts for the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants, which are owned by FirstEnergy’s former subsidiary, FirstEnergy Solutions. These plants were scheduled to close in 2020 and 2021 after the company declared bankruptcy. But before this could happen, FirstEnergy — which has been one of  DeWine’s top campaign contributors in the last three elections — requested the bailout as soon as he took office.

This bill makes consumers bail out FirstEnergy for their own mistakes, and it also defunds and eliminates Ohio’s current renewable energy and energy standards. It could also not allow any renewable energy projects to qualify for new “clean air” funds. 

While HB 6 is cutting out these standards, it also blocks resolving Ohio’s restrictive wind setback regulation — something that has made it difficult to make new investments and new wind farms in Ohio since 2014. This regulation is also a barrier to businesses that could create billions of dollars and thousands of jobs in the state of Ohio and it is depriving farmers and other landowners of new sources of income.

These are all red flags that can have a negative impact on not only the state but on Ohio consumers. Another red flag is how this bill was put into effect; it was sent to DeWine after passing the Ohio House of Representatives by one vote. 

Our legislators went ahead and voted this bill into law without any input from the voters who have to pay for the bailout. They did not feel the need to inform the people who this would affect the most.  

There seems to be no need for this law, and it has a negative impact on the environment and the little renewable energy standards that are in effect in Ohio. There is also no reason why this bill should have passed without consumer awareness.

Even though this has already been passed by the legislature, there are still things we can do to stop this from going into effect and to give the voters a choice.

There is a referendum effort organized by opponents of the bill. With enough petitioning and the needed signatures, we will be able to put this issue before voters in the state. There is a lot of support and energy behind this referendum, and with the right amount of movement, we should be able to make a change.

If you want to get involved with this bill, visit these nonprofit websites: Ohio Citizen Action and Ohio Energy Project

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