By Sen. Theresa Gavarone (2nd District) and Sen. John Eklund (18th District)
The balanced, bipartisan energy policy contained in HB 6 that provides jobs, clean energy, and growth opportunities for our communities has come under scrutiny because of actions made by the former Speaker of the House, Larry Householder.
In recent weeks, there have been calls for the repeal of HB 6. We have much more to learn and understand about the investigation, and anyone who acted illegally must be brought to justice for the politics they played with this policy. However, we believe strongly that the Senate-passed and enacted version of HB 6 is good public policy.
The Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants reside in the Gavarone and Eklund districts, but with thousands of direct and indirect jobs linked to the two facilities, there is no doubt that many members, both Republicans and Democrats, have constituents and their families who depend on those plants staying open.
The two plants account for thousands of jobs, millions in funding for schools, emergency services and libraries, as well as 90% or the carbon-free energy produced in our state. The way of life for thousands of families would be decimated should any law be enacted that would repeal HB 6 without an adequate replacement.
We are strong supporters of clean energy options as part of a balanced energy policy for Ohio. The nuclear plants, while accounting for 90% of the carbon-free energy produced in the state, generate 15% one Ohio’s electricity. Wind and solar represent a fraction of Ohio’s power grid (less than 2%) and it would be impossible at this time or in the near future for those technologies to make up the 15% gap in energy use if the nuclear plants are decommissioned.
Repealing HB 6 without an immediate replacement would result in a significantly less diverse energy portfolio.
Losing the plants would not only deal a critical blow to clean energy in the state — but would also have a devastating impact on job growth and the willingness of companies to bring their operations to Ohio. We are a national leader in economic development as evidenced by companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google building facilities across the state.
Access to clean energy is a priority for companies who want to invest in our communities and our people, and the elimination of clean energy sources makes our state less attractive for business. Furthermore, a diverse portfolio kelps keep energy costs low and ensures reliability which is an important economic driver. Repealing HB 6 without an immediate replace is one that would almost certainly end the record-breaking gains Ohio’s economy has made over the last few decades.
With these goals in mind, the Senate’s intense scrutiny significantly changed the original version of the energy bill that the House sent us. Chairman Wilson and members of his Energy and Public Utilities Committee were extremely diligent in their consideration and modification of the bill.
The bill we voted for reduces rates for customers, generates emission-free energy, provides thousands of jobs and contains many important accountability measures to protect rate-payer dollars.