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Referendum to defeat House Bill 6 begins to gather energy in state

Ohio's Perry Nuclear Plant Credit: Neal Wellons (Creative Commons)

COLUMBUS -- "FirstEnergy Solutions might not want to spend its bailout money just yet. There's reason to doubt Ohioans will follow through in subsidizing the Akron company's nuclear plants in Lake and Ottawa counties.

While state legislators may have decided to subsidize the Perry and Davis-Besse plants with about $150 million a year from ratepayers via House Bill 6, voters have not. A referendum to overturn HB 6 is gaining support and could land on the ballot in a perfect, high-turnout election year for its success.

'I think it could easily win. … HB 6 is very unpopular,' said Paul Beck, a professor emeritus and former chair of the political science department at Ohio State University.

Beck and other observers say HB 6 has it all, in terms of angering voters. Liberals and even some conservatives hate that it guts support for renewable energy after the state used subsidies to lure those industries to Ohio. Liberals hate that it subsidizes dirty coal plants. Many conservatives hate that it picks winners and losers by subsidizing one industry over another."

-- Dan Shingler, Crain's Cleveland Business

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Nuclear energy bill won't affect plans for wind farm

Wind farm in Bowling Green, the pioneer of the state in developing commercial wind energy.

 

BELLEVUE — "The approval of a bill to save Ohio’s nuclear power plants won’t affect plans to place a wind farm in Erie and Huron counties.

Apex Clean Energy wants to construct up 71 wind turbines in the two counties in with its Emerson Creek project. Its proposal is being reviewed by the Ohio Power Siting Board, which holds the authority to deny or approve it.

The Ohio General Assembly recently approved House Bill 6, which subsidized Ohio’s nuclear energy plants, including FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse.

But the bill also eliminated Ohio’s efficiency and renewable energy standards. Despite this change, Apex said it plans to move forward with the Emerson Creek if the board approves it.

'Hundreds of local landowners and farmers have invested time and energy into local wind projects with Apex Clean Energy,' Apex spokeswoman Natasha Montague said. 'We continue our commitment to these projects and the communities they benefit.'"

— Michael Harrington, Sandusky Register

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Could wind turbine farms power the valley's future economy?

VAN WERT — "The Blue Creek Wind Farm operated by Avangrid Renewables is not far from the small rural, suburban city of Van Wert.

The farm's 152 wind turbines catch your attention while traveling on Route 30 to the Ohio-Indiana border.

The largest wind farm in Ohio generates enough electricity to power the entire nearby communities.

'We're in both Paulding and Van Wert counties. That's more homes than we actually have in Paulding and Van Wert, so we could theoretically supply every home here,' said Neil Voje said, plant manager at Blue Creek Wind Farm.

Voje says you need the right amount of space and a certain amount of wind for a wind farm to be successful. He says most areas around the country are viable locations.

The wind turbines can generate power starting with winds as low as 5 miles per hour, but the sweet spot for maximum production is 25 to 35 miles per hour. They're larger than the wind turbines of the past spanning 100 meters tall.

The movement from the turbines means money for two local school districts to the tune of more than a million dollars each year.

'That's big money for our schools, for county general- $300,000 comes into the county general fund, which we use for lots of different expenditures,' said Thad Lichtensteiger said, Van Wert County commissioner.

Money from the wind farm helped the Crestview Local Schools enough financially that it didn't have to ask voters for a renewal levy in recent years. He says Lincolnview Schools used the funding to provide all of its students with tablets in the classroom.

While traditional jobs of the past in the Midwest continue to disappear, employment in the renewable energy sector is expected to power the economy in the years to come."

— Lindsay McCoy, WFMJ Weekend Today

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Ohio’s nuclear power rescue bill: some questions and answers

COLUMBUS — ”Ohio lawmakers on Thursday are expected to rework high-profile legislation that would scrap the state’s green-energy mandates in favor of subsidies to “clean-energy” power producers.

It’s the latest milestone in the controversial legislation, which supporters say would save Ohioans money on their electric bills and opponents claim is a “bailout” for two Northern Ohio nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions.

House Bill 6 is a complicated but important bill that has created interesting bedfellows: Republican House Speaker Larry Householder, FirstEnergy Solutions, labor unions, nuclear power advocates, and local officials on one side; House Democrats, environmental groups, the fossil-fuel industry, renewable energy companies, and some conservative organizations on the other.

Here’s more on what the bill would do, the arguments for and against it, and how likely it is to pass.”

— Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com

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Nuclear power companies have spent millions lobbying for subsidies. Should Ohio, other states bail them out?

COLUMBUS—”Nuclear power companies and their supporters have spent millions of dollars contributing to state candidate campaigns and lobbying state officials.

In New Jersey, FirstEnergy’s New Jersey subsidiary and Exelon spent $5.2 million in 2017 and 2018 on lobbying efforts for the subsidy package there, according to reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. FirstEnergy’s share: $831,600 during that time.

Complete lobbying expenses aren’t reported in Ohio.

Before the bankruptcy filing, FirstEnergy Corp. was pressing for similar legislation last year. The company has had more than a dozen registered lobbyists since 2017. FirstEnergy Solutions currently has four registered lobbyists and FirstEnergy Bondholder Group has two.

FirstEnergy’s political action committee has given more than $1.74 million to Ohio political candidates and parties since January 2015, according to an Enquirer analysis of campaign finance data. Company executives and employees gave another $130,000 to statewide and Statehouse candidates during that time. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and his running mate Jon Husted received $62,221 from FirstEnergy’s PAC and executives during the 2018 campaign and another $20,000 for the transition.”

— Jackie Borchardt, Cincinnati Enquirer

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Ohio Democrats call for ‘honest conversation’ on nuclear bill

Ohio House minority leader Emilia Sykes.

COLUMBUS —“’It’s our job as lawmakers to cut through the politics and ugly, false narratives that seem to be surrounding this legislation,’ said Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, leader of the House Democratic caucus, in a statement issued late Monday through the Ohio House Minority Caucus Blog.

‘Our priority with statewide energy policy remains focused on protecting consumers, protecting public health and creating an environment where good jobs grow.

‘Supporting nuclear energy is part of an all-of the-above strategy that keeps energy reliable and secure for Ohioans,’ added Sykes. ‘But taxpayers deserve an honest conversation about how this legislation will impact them directly, and we hope to add to that.’”

— John Funk, Energy News Network 

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Ohio Citizen Action calls for the removal of Rep Nino Vitale as Chairman of the Ohio House Energy and Natural Resources Committee

COLUMBUS — “On behalf of Ohio Citizen Action, I write to ask you to remove Representative Nino Vitale (R-Champaign, Logan and part of Shelby) as Chairman of the Ohio House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. You’ll recall that we recently sent a letter asking for Rep. Dick Stein’s resignation after he shared his biased anti-wind generation technology stance while representing himself as an all-the-above leader in making decisions related to Ohio’s energy future. Already, here we are again now that Vitale has made his bias against low-income Ohioans and the energy programs that benefit them known. Stein, co-chairman of the Ohio House Subcommittee on Energy Generation expressed his anti-renewable view and now Vitale is sharing his anti-energy efficiency opinion. It’s interesting that leadership among the House’s energy committees are against two fundamental aspects of our energy future – energy efficiency and renewable energy. Ironically, these are the areas excluded under House Bill 6.

As an organization with a strong commitment to helping all consumers see the benefits of clean, renewable and energy efficiency efforts and affordable utility bills, we find Vitale’s comments are imprudent, inappropriate, narrow-minded and discriminatory.


Lawmaker argues low-income Ohioans should pay their own energy-efficiency costs

COLUMBUS — “The chair of the Ohio House committee that may soon be considering legislation to offer hundreds of millions in subsidies to “clean-energy” nuclear power plant owners is arguing in favor of the bill because it would remove subsidies that help poorer Ohioans become more energy-efficient.

Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Nino Vitale, in a Wednesday email to fellow Republican state Rep. John Becker, wrote that low-income Ohioans should have to cover their own costs of insulating their homes and using LED light bulbs, rather than accept money from ratepayer-funded energy-efficiency programs.

‘I ask, how many subsidy programs do we need to give away? We are already paying for food, heating assistance, cell phones, child support, and the list goes on and on,’ Vitale wrote.

‘While this may sound mean to some, a little hunger in the belly or being a little cold on some really cold days is a good incentive for me to get up, go to work and provide for my 5 boys and wife,’ the Urbana lawmaker continued. ‘If everything is provided for me through government programs that I will never have to reimburse, what incentive is there for me to ever change and cover my own expenses?'”

— Jeremy Pelzer, Cleveland.com

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Another one bites the (coal) dust

MEIGS COUNTY — “A proposed 960-megawatt coal-fired power plant for southeast Ohio won’t be built, thanks to both cost increases and opposition from the public. American Municipal Power (AMP) announced the decision to scrap plans for the $3.9 billion plant at the end of November. The facility would have joined four other coal-fired power plants currently located in Meigs County, Ohio, where residents have the some of the highest cancer rates in the nation, according to Ohio Citizen Action, a grassroots organization that fought plans for the plant.”

—Stephanie Rogers, Mother Nature Network

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