Corporate run govt propping up dying industries

As The Enquirer notes, this vote puts Ohio in a truly rarefied position. It’s not just one of a handful of states to use ratepayer-funded assistance to bail out unprofitable plants; it’s also the first state to do this while cutting standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The bill represents a one-two punch combo for Ohio. Not only does it set ratepayers up to provide profits to power companies using inefficient technology, but it also blocks efforts at progress by locking in the status quo.

Add to that the fact that the legislation was supported and promoted by dark-money groups, which managed to get legislators to vote for it over widespread opposition, and it’s a perfect example of modern Republican “populism.”

Corporate run govt propping up dying industries

Ohio law forces everyone to bail out nuclear and coal plants, ends support for energy efficiency

Everyone in Ohio will now get the privilege of bailing out noncompetitive nuclear and coal plants, even if they don’t use power from either of the companies that operate those plants. On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed new legislation that adds fees to every single resident’s electric bills in order to bail out nuclear plants operated by FirstEnergy Solutions and coal plants operated Ohio Valley Electric Corporation. 

Nuke

And, as an extra-special bonus, the same legislation will end programs supporting increased efficiency along with those that promote wind and solar power. In fact, the legislation is being sold to Ohio consumers as a savings, because the $170 million in payoffs to failing plants is hidden behind the “savings” generated by failing to take any steps to improve the money-losing system.

It gets better. Getting enough money out of the system to cover up the cost of these old, expensive, and never profitable plants is considered vital enough that the legislation will actually phase out Ohio’s efforts to increase the use of renewable energy and energy-efficient approaches. The state currently has requirements that some percentage of electricity be generated through renewable energy. Those requirements were to reach 12% of electricity by 2027. Instead, those standards are also being phased out. By 2026, they are gone completely.

According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, Republicans have pitched the bill as “saving jobs” by keeping the two nuclear plants in business. That’s even though the nuclear plants, which have never operated at a profit, are massively more expensive to operate than creating the equivalent amount of power from either wind or solar, and even though replacing the plants would actually create more jobs. Not just more jobs, but jobs in industries that are growing, and for which there is wide demand. That’s not something that can be said about the position of nuclear plant operator.

It’s not just the nuclear plants that are operating on government largess. A fee that supports a pair of aging coal plants was already on the electric bills of many in Ohio. Now the whole state will join in—even though the cost of simply operating those plants is greater than the cost of replacing them completely with clean energy.

The vote was opposed not just by environmental groups, but also by taxpayer associations, businesses, manufacturer’s associations—practically everyone. That includes oil and gas companies that wanted to replace the facilities with newer natural gas plants. But the legislation was supported by dark-money organizations that flooded Ohioans’ airwaves with advertisements warning of dire consequences if the plants were allowed to close.

As The Enquirer notes, this vote puts Ohio in a truly rarefied position. It’s not just one of a handful of states to use ratepayer-funded assistance to bail out unprofitable plants; it’s also the first state to do this while cutting standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The bill represents a one-two punch combo for Ohio. Not only does it set ratepayers up to provide profits to power companies using inefficient technology, but it also blocks efforts at progress by locking in the status quo.

Add to that the fact that the legislation was supported and promoted by dark-money groups, which managed to get legislators to vote for it over widespread opposition, and it’s a perfect example of modern Republican “populism.”

This isn’t the first time that FirstEnergy had gone begging. It previously tried to get Energy Secretary Rick Perry to bail it out, but even regulators inside the Trump Energy Department wouldn’t go for the deal. Apparently, Ohio’s legislators were an easier mark.

Finally, and perhaps best of all, the name of this is legislation is the Creates Ohio Clean Air Program.

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