A new plan is on the table to phase out rate programs that have let Ohio’s electric utilities collect billions in subsidies over the past dozen years. But the bill aims to continue coal plant subsidies and cuts authority for utility energy efficiency programs.
Critics also worry that vague wording will continue cross-subsidies in another guise.
Now, House Bill 317 would slash statutory provisions for the plans. The bill, introduced last month, comes from Rep. Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro. Wilkin was a primary sponsor of HB 6, the 2019 nuclear and coal bailout lawthat also gutted the state’s clean energy standards. And it aimed to“recession-proof” utilities by letting them guarantee revenue levels under their 2018 Electric Security Plans.
Concerns about the outsized influence of utility and fossil fuel interests have resurfaced as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio begins steps to name a new commissioner after the sudden exit of Chair Sam Randazzo.
Randazzo resigned on Nov. 20 after an FBI team had searched his home and FirstEnergy released a mandatory quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The report showed the company paid $4 million to an entity associated with Randazzo shortly before his appointment last year.
Now the Public Utilities Commission, or PUCO, has put out a call for applicants to fill the vacancy. Under Ohio law, a nominating council will review the applications and then nominate four candidates to the governor. Advocates have criticized the council, which only has one seat for a consumer advocate, as being too heavily tilted toward utility interests.