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A second version of
legislation in Ohio designed to subsidize the operation of two nuclear power
plants appears to be have the same limitations on renewable energy development
as the first version.

Meanwhile, Democrats have
announced an alternative plan, which would increase the state’s renewable
energy standard to 50 percent by 2050

Substitute House Bill 6, introduced to members of the Ohio House Energy Generation subcommittee minutes before a scheduled fourth hearing late Thursday, keeps language that would allow utilities and independent retail power suppliers to ignore previously enacted renewable energy benchmarks which top out at 12.5 percent by 2027.

Without those benchmarks,
wind and solar developers worry that the utility market for their power would weaken.

For consumers and Ohio
businesses, the future would definitely be more expensive under HB 6, though
the amended version encourages state regulators to develop “reasonable
arrangements” for industry.

The bill as now written would
eliminate the minor fees associated with acquiring renewable energy, 10 cents
to 69 cents a month on residential bills, but would require customers to
continue paying for energy efficiency programs mandated since 2009. Those
programs would now disappear after 2020 but could be resurrected by utilities if
approved by regulators.

The revisions leave unscathed
the bill’s most expensive feature — new customer fees amounting to more than
$300 million annually to create a Clean Air Fund. About half of that money would
go to the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants operated by FirstEnergy
Solutions on Lake Erie.

The GOP majority on the
subcommittee voted five to three to move the bill — without discussion — to
the larger House Energy and Natural Resources Committee for a hearing as early
as Monday.

The committee’s action came
about the same hour that outnumbered House Democrats released a statement purporting
to announce the creation of a “Clean Energy Jobs Plan.”

That plan, so far without
accompanying legislation, would “strengthen Ohio’s renewable and energy
efficiency benchmarks,” set a 50 percent renewable energy standard by 2050 and resurrect
the state’s former Advanced Energy Standards which GOP majorities previously
converted to unenforceable goals.

Enacted in 2009, the
standards envisioned the development of fuel cell power plants and advanced
nuclear power plants, neither of which have occurred in Ohio.

Democrats called for the
resurrection of the standards and the creation of “Advanced Energy Credits to
maintain a 15 percent baseline generation capacity from emissions-free nuclear
power.”

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