House Bill 6, which was co-sponsored by state Rep. Shane Wilkin of Hillsboro, was signed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Tuesday in Columbus.
Last week, the Ohio Senate passed its version of the controversial energy bill by a 19-12 vote, effectively sending it back to the Ohio House of Representatives for approval or conference committee to settle differences between the two chambers.
Tuesday afternoon, the Ohio house sent the bill to DeWine for his signature after passing it by a 51-28 vote.
Wilkin told The Times-Gazette that his view of the bill from the beginning was that it had to bring with it a rate reduction for consumers, and despite the differences in what he originally co-sponsored and thje bill the governor signed, he still believes it is a good bill.
“I’m a little partial to the bill that we passed out of the House originally, but the good thing is this does have an effect on the mandates and I think it’s a good move for Ohio,” Wilkin said. “Your average residential customer will see substantial savings over time and we crafted it to where everyone should save money starting as soon as the bill is implemented. It’s not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction.”
He said the current mandates that are figured into everyone’s electric bill, be it private consumer or commercial user, are set to double in 2021, which would dramatically increase everyone’s electric bill.
Proponents of the measure, such as Wilkin, called it a bill that “looks at Ohio’s energy future by investing in clean energy.” But opponents described it as “an energy bill disguised as a nuclear plant bailout.”
As previously reported in The Times-Gazette, the bill will add new fees to electric bills for consumers in Ohio, with 90 percent of that revenue going to help bail out a pair of nuclear power plants on the shores of Lake Erie owned by bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2021, an 85-cent per month fee will start to appear on Ohioans’ electric bill statements, raising about $150 million annually, with about 90 percent of the revenue earmarked for the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power stations.
The remaining funds generated by the fee, which will continue until the end of 2027, are estimated to be about $20 million and will be funneled into the state’s six eligible solar energy projects, two of which are the 150-megawatt Willowbrook and 300-megawatt Hecate solar panel farms slated to be built in southern Highland County.
“There is absolutely no doubt that the two northern Ohio nuclear plants are the biggest beneficiaries of this bill,” Wilkin said. “But this bill also supports utility-scale solar power, which will be a direct benefit to our district for our schools and Highland County. I know there has been some controversy with the proposed solar farms, but it will bring some much needed revenue into the county.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571