Senate President Obhof Says “I don’t think that the timing is going to be an issue.”
The Senate adjourned last Sunday after passing a two-week budget extension, and without acting on HB 6. According to Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee Chairman Steve Wilson, the fifty pending amendments were simply too much to consider on Saturday. One of those is the OPAE-initiated amendment to increase the transfer of HEAP to HWAP to 25%, which is being offered by Senator John Eklund (R-18).
FirstEnergy announced, to no one’s surprise, that it was willing to wait…for the money. Senator Obhof continues to support the nuclear subsidy, but only if the overall package reduces costs for ratepayers.
It is unclear what that means exactly. The Senate bill retains a renewable standard, though it is reduced from 12.5% of energy consumed to 8.5%. The energy efficiency standards are also retained, though the complicated provision could allow utilities with a large amount of banked savings – savings that exceeded the yearly requirements – could potentially reduce the size of their programs significantly. All the utilities except Duke could opt for the smaller programs. The bill also eliminated shared savings for utilities in favor of allowing lost distribution revenues, which are much larger.
“When I look at the bill right now, there is a clear indication that the Senate leadership intends to tighten up the subsidy for the nuclear plants,” according to Dave Rinebolt, OPAE Executive Director. “The question is, how do they reduce costs while retaining the renewable and efficiency standards?”
OPAE’s amendment, which would reinstate the additional 5% transfer of HEAP funds to HWAP included in the House-passed bill, is still in play. Senior Senate staffers have indicated that leadership views the amendment favorably, particularly since it involves no state or ratepayer funds. There was an inquiry about whether HWAP agencies were spending the funds, but with spending for the last program year at 95.7%, it was easy to make the case that the funds can be used effectively.
There are several Senators that are critical to the passage of the OPAE amendment:
- Larry Obhof — Medina, Ashland, Holmes
- Matt Dolan — Cuyahoga
- Bob Peterson — Clinton, Fayette, Pickaway, Highland, Ross, Pike, Vinton, Jackson, Gallia, Lawrence
- Jay Hottinger — Licking, Holmes, Tuscarawas, Coshocton, Perry
- Steve Wilson — Warren, Hamilton, Butler
- Matt Huffman — Allen, Auglaize, Mercer, Darke, Shelby, Logan, Champaign
- Rob McColley — Williams, Fulton, Defiance, Putnam, Henry, Hancock, Paulding, Van Wert, Auglaize, Hardin
- Michael Rulli — Mahoning, Columbiana
- Frank Hoagland — Carroll, Jefferson, Harrison, Belmont, Noble, Monroe, Washington, Athens, Meigs, Vinton
- John Eklund — Lake, Geauga, Portage
Larry Price, representing Ohio Urban Resources System and Ron Rees of COAD worked closely with Steve Tugend and the OPAE team to keep the HEAP transfer amendment alive.
A separate legislative alert, with talking points, is available for agency executive directors and energy coordinators serving the counties represented by the key Senators. CLICK HERE >>>
The General Assembly is in recess the balance of the week, and is expected to take up HB 6 and the budget next week.