Ohio General Assembly
The big story in Columbus is HB 6, the nuclear bailout bill that passed last year. $61 million greased the skids for Rep. Larry Householder to become Speaker of the House (he has been removed from that post), and ultimate passage of the $1.5 billion nuclear bailout. The General Assembly is debating a straight repeal, or a repeal and replace approach which would continue the subsidies as good policy. It’s important to understand that if the bill is repealed but the subsidy is replaced, Ohio ratepayers will be handing $1.5 billion Connecticut hedge funds and New York merchant banks for no good reason. Davis-Besse and Perry are making money, so they are not going to shut down if the subsidy is pulled. The 1,400 jobs are not at risk. And never mind that our network could create way more than 1,400 jobs if the General Assembly gave us that kind of money.
Observers are predicting action in the lame-duck session after the election, though some supporters of HB 6 are in tight races and would like to repeal it now. Given the Legislature’s tendency to take from the poor and give to the rich, I suspect HB 6 will be repealed, but the subsidy will be approved. OPAE was able to obtain a transfer of an additional 5% of HEAP funds to weatherization, which will likely be repealed. It is also unclear if energy efficiency mandates will be continued or lapse; a straight repeal would put efficiency requirements back in place. In a repeal and replace approach, continuation of mandatory efficiency programs is unlikely.
At the federal level, we are looking at a series of Continuing Resolutions (CRs) as we move into the new fiscal year on October 1st. Reports indicate there will be a CR that runs into December when Congress will pass a second CR that puts final appropriations decisions on hold until after the new or the old President is sworn in. HEAP will be fine and may see an increase. The Program is always forward funded, meaning the first CR will provide full appropriations so funds are available for the winter. HWAP is a different matter. If there is a new President, I suspect a substantial increase. If the old President prevails, I expect a zero request and level funding at the end of the process. Same old, same old.