Last Updated: September 24th, 2019 at 6:18 pm
Read Time: 3 Minutes
Clean energy advocates in Ohio took a big blow in late July with the passage of House Bill 6, legislation that subsidizes nuclear and coal power plants with millions of dollars annually and cuts green energy mandates for utilities.
As part of the bill, Ohio residential electricity customers could be paying up to $2.35 in monthly charges to prop up two nuclear plants (Davis-Besse near Toledo and Perry northeast of Cleveland) and two Ohio Valley Electric Corp. coal plants (one in Ohio, and the other in Indiana) starting in 2021.
Broken out, the subsidies for nuclear (up to 85 cents for residential customers until 2027) and coal (up to $1.50 for residential customers until 2030) will provide $150 million annually for the two nuclear plants, and $50 million annually for the coal plants. Industrial customers will be paying even more.
With these subsidies being put into place, current energy-efficiency and renewable-energy mandates for utilities are being phased out. Per cost charts provided to the Cleveland Plain Dealer by the Ohio Senate committee that heard the bill, the current renewable energy mandates cost residential customers an average of $4.74 a month.
So by 2027, even with the subsidies for nuclear and coal, residential ratepayers would save an estimated $3.78 per month over what they pay now, according to the charts cited by the Plain Dealer.
Ohio taking short-term gains over long-term ones
While cost savings for consumers is a positive, turning away from efficiency initiatives appears to be short-sighted thinking. According to the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Ohio’s energy efficiency standard has saved Ohio customers $5.1 billion in energy bill savings from 2009-2017.
On top of that, HB6 reduces the state’s renewable-energy goal to only 8.5 percent by 2027, which is 4 percent lower than the prior target of 12.5 percent.
While other states such as California and New York are intent on pursuing 100 percent renewable energy goals by either 2045 or 2050, Ohio is halting progress to that number with its subsidies of energy sources that are not profitable for those running them. The $50 million coal subsidy also does nothing to halt the greenhouse gas emissions those two coal plants will continue to generate over the next 10 years.
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