PAINESVILLE, Ohio — Officials from both Lake and Ottawa counties gathered together in Painesville on Wednesday to discuss the future of House Bill 6 and the state's two nuclear power plants.
County leaders outlined their goals for HB 6 in order to protect Ohio's economy, and what their hopes are for the future of all Ohioans.
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The future of HB 6 and the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants became murky following details of a $60 million federal bribery investigation, which has resulted in the arrest of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others.
HB 6, a roughly $1 billion financial bailout for Ohio's two nuclear power plants, was signed into law in July 2019. It added a new fee to every electricity bill in the state and directed over $150 million a year through 2026 to the plants in Lake and Ottawa counties.
Federal prosecutors allege that from March 2017 to March 2020, Householder and others received millions of dollars in exchange for help in passing HB 6.
A bill to repeal HB 6 was introduced last month. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has said he supports a repeal of the law.
You can watch Wednesday's briefing in the player below:
Lake and Ottawa Commissioners say they oppose any repeal without 'a thoroughly vetted and workable replacement.'
"While we detest any alleged illegal or unethical activity before, during, or after the enactment of the legislation, we certainly believed the policy outcomes were of great benefit not only to our counties, but also to all Ohioans. If the former House Speaker or 'dark money' contributors were coordinating illegal behind the scenes activities, they should be punished in accordance with Federal and State laws," stated the Commissioners.
According to Ottawa County Commissioner Mark Stahl, "About a year ago we stood together and celebrated the numerous, positive, policy impacts of HB 6 which included lower monthly electric bills for all Ohioans, cleaner air to breathe for all Ohioans, saving several thousand direct and indirect jobs in our counties, protecting our schools, strengthening our safety services."
The commissioners from the two counties wrote a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine, urging him and House and Senate leaders to consider the 'reform and replace the legislation with a new bill that will ensure the continued operation of the two nuclear plants.' You can read it below.
The Commissioners contend that no piece of federal, state, or local legislation is perfect, and can certainly be improved, enhanced, or adjusted to address necessary changes.
"Simply throwing the policy out with the political bathwater seems short-sighted at best and potentially catastrophic to Ohio's energy portfolio and costs moving forward. The fact remains if the nuclear fleet in Ohio is closed nearly 90% of Ohio's zero-carbon electric power generation and over 25% of Ohio's entire electric energy portfolio would be lost and will not come back," said Lake County Commission President John Hamercheck.
Lake County leaders also laid out in writing what the economic effects of the closing of Perry Nuclear Power Plant would be. You can see their report below.