How Ohio’s controversial HB 6 law pandemic-proofed utilities’ revenue

The power plant bailout law included what experts call a distorted version of decoupling that guaranteed utility’s revenue regardless of a downturn in electricity demand.

COLUMBUS -- "In Ohio, FirstEnergy and other utilities had less to worry about, though, thanks to a measure in the state’s controversial power plant bailout law that cut the link between revenues and the amount of electricity sold.

The concept is known as decoupling, and it’s usually used as a tool to overcome utilities’ financial disincentive to invest in energy efficiency and conservation. Utilities that help customers conserve energy still collect the money they need to cover costs and a reasonable return for investors.

In Ohio, however, lawmakers didn’t use decoupling to offset losses due to energy conservation. Instead, HB 6, the law at the heart of an alleged corruption conspiracy, gave utilities that spoonful of sugar without any medicine. In fact, HB 6 eliminated energy efficiency standards for Ohio utilities.

The end result: Amid a pandemic that saw the state’s economy falter, FirstEnergy’s utilities were guaranteed steady revenues — at the expense of ratepayers struggling to make ends meet."

-- Kathiann M Kowalski, Energy News Network

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