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Ohio nuclear subsidy bill designed to undermine wind and solar, experts say via Energy News

Hearings continue in the Ohio House this week on the bill, which creates a “Clean Air Program” that would benefit existing nuclear and coal plants.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Analysts say legislation to subsidize Ohio’s nuclear plants through the creation of a statewide “Clean Air Program” would discourage development of wind and solar energy because it would undermine renewable energy requirements set in place a decade ago.

The bill would eliminate a surcharge allowing utilities to pass along their costs for complying with the state’s renewable portfolio standard, replacing a competitive renewable energy market with subsidies that appear aimed toward existing nuclear and coal power plants.

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The bill, O’Donnell wrote, is tantamount to undoing the renewable portfolio standard, which “sets out competitive, market-based procurements whereby the state sets a target and allows the flourishing clean energy private sector to select least cost projects.”

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In other words, the bill seems designed to support existing power plants, rather than new clean energy projects, which currently have to compete to show they are the lowest-cost option. HB 6 imposes no such requirement for facilities trying to qualify for the Clean Air Fund.

The bill also excludes solar facilities smaller than 50 megawatts. While there are large solar farms under development in the state, no existing facility would meet the 50-megawatt threshold.

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“API opposes HB 6 because instead of encouraging innovation and recognizing those who have risked private capital and provided beneficial outcomes without burdening Ohio ratepayers, this bill would effectively destroy the market that has provided these positive outcomes,” he added. 

“The practical effect of HB 6 is to direct hundreds of millions of dollars to one company to the exclusion of its existing or potential competitors.”

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