Another hard-hitting, “tell it like it is” article from our friend Diane Jones at Auburntownship.org. She opines on House Bill 6, the bailout bill for the energy companies, and let our elected officials know what she thinks about their continual support of the energy lobbyists…..Bravo Diane….
COUNTDOWN TO AUGUST 1 BAILOUT: ANOTHER WALL OF SHAME
Published Monday, July 22, 2019
Fifty years ago a very memorable countdown prefaced the announcement that the US lunar landing was “one small step for man. . .one giant step for mankind.” Everyone felt the quickening sense of purpose and the unlimited possibilities for advancement. Several nations have followed in the footsteps of the Apollo, most recently India.
The Davis-Besse nuclear power station is seen in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
Fifty years after that illustrious event Ohio voters have witnessed the ignominy and shame of their elected servants bowing and caving in to the whims and wishes of big business and corporate leaders, this time the honchos in charge of electric utilities: First Energy Corporation, Dayton Power and Light Company, Duke Energy Corporation, and American Electric Power Company. Ohio voters are being screwed again. How long, oh Lord, how long must we endure?
Amidst talk last month that House Bill 6 would not prevail under the fine-tooth scrutiny of Ohio Senate members, they approved the Senate version on Wednesday, July 17, and immediately scooted it back to the Ohio House of Representatives for quick final approval so it could fly into the hands of DeWine for signing. Just a little unexpected turbulence to the free flight : four House members who were not around on purpose or by chance. When the Ohio House adjourned until August 1, they were short the necessary votes to give Big Electric Power the luscious grapes from the Garden of Babylon it has been lusting over. . .Patience, big boys. It’s almost yours on the blood, sweat, and tears of the little guys who just pay your bills and subsidize your excesses. Nevertheless, it’s summertime. Do the voters have a plan with a huge election season just ahead?
First Energy Solutions knows all about patience and playing its cards. You may remember that FES warned incessantly that the Ohio Legislature had only until June 30 to approve the bailout. Else there would be dire outcomes: the immediate dismantling of two nuclear power plants and the loss of several hundred crucial positions that would identify Ohio as the crux of US unemployment. June 30 came and went, didn’t it? Now we are told that the jobs of the potentially-afflicted workers and the future of Ohio itself will be all right after all if the legislature will pass the issue soon. Is August 1 soon enough for you to lick your chops and keep the gleam in your money-hungry eyes, Big Energy? Even so, First Energy Solutions is still threatening the decommission of the North Perry Plant by early 2021 if the Ohio Legislature and the Republican governor don’t Bend the Knee.
To its credit, the Ohio Senate appeared to dig its heels in to at least demonstrate to environmentalists whose votes they might possibly need in the upcoming election season that Big Energy did not deserve 100% of its demands. As a result, they cut the $200 million for FES bailout back to $150,000 and imposed a monthly surcharge of $.80 for each residential electric customer from 2021 until 2027. This arrangement, according to cleveland.com reporter Thomas Suddes in his July 20 article, “Lawmakers, Take Advantage of Ratepayers,” will bring in $170 million each of those years. Out of this pot, First Energy Solutions will net its $150 million for bailout, even though it never outlined the expenses of that procedure to either voters or elected legislators. Residential customers will also subsidize Ohio and Indiana coal plants that are operated by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, although we do not know at this time the actual dollar amount per year or in total that they will fund at this time. Why Indiana, Ohio Senators?
Is the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation an Ohio registered company? We’re not sure. According to reporter Suddes, the conglomerate includes Dayton Power and Light Company, Duke Energy Corporation, First Energy Corporation, and American Electric Power Company, but not necessarily just them.
The remaining $20 million, in an appearance of appeasement to “Alternative Energy,” will subsidize six solar energy projects slated to be installed “somewhere out there” in “rural Ohio.” Is that move supposed to make rural voters sidle up to Ohio legislators in primary races? Pork Barrel?
It is also our understanding that the electric charges imposed on commercial customers will be reduced, but we do not know the amount of that reduction at this time. Why is it necessary for the voter to subsidize this latest favor to Big Energy, which has run into some snafus when it has been awarded rate increases by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Nevertheless, Big Energy, aka First Energy Corporation, has the finances and the lobbyists to reach your elected state representatives for major bailouts. Whatever happened to the Free Enterprise System? Back in the day market forces, not political friendships and influence-peddling, determined which commercial interests would survive and which would fall on their own swords.
Reporter Suddes opines, “Democratic-run New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Illinois already regulate their states’ electric customers to subsidize nuclear power plants. Pennsylvania, with a Republican legislature and Democratic governor, has refused, so far. Too bad; maybe Pennsylvania could have helped subsidize an Ohio power plant the way HB 6 would make Ohioans help subsidize an Indiana power plant.”
Big Energy is like the wolf at the door licking its chops for another reason. Thanks to Ohio state law thus far and a 1957 Ohio Supreme Court ruling, Big Energy, aka First Energy Solutions and others, don’t have to refund Ohio customers when utility rates awarded by the Public Utility Commission are overturned by the Supreme Court. Although the rate increases may have been illegal, First Energy gets to keep the illegal funds. The Ohio Consumer Council announced last week, “Since 2009. . .Ohio consumers of electric utilities have been denied about $1.2 billion in PUCO approved utility charges that the [Ohio] Supreme Court has found to be improper.”
And now for the piece de resistance! We present to you the latest Wall of Shame. In case you might have forgotten, local Ohio Rep Jamie Callender from District 61 (Concord) and Shane Wilkin of District 91 are the primary sponsors of HB6. Election season is coming up . . . The latest honorees belong to the Ohio Senate. The Senate version passed 19-12. Here are the names and party affiliations of the nineteen who played into the latest buyout/bailout:
Andrew Brenner, Republican
Dave Burke, Republican
Teresa Fedor, Democrat
Theresa Favarone, Republican
Bob Hackett, Republican
Frank Hoagland, Republican
Joy Hottinger, Republican
Matt Huffman, Republican
Peggy Lehner, Republican
Rob Peterson, Republican
Tim Schaffer, Republican
Lou Terhar. Republican
Steve Wilson, Republican
We have saved the BEST, the bunch from Northeast Ohio, for the greatest glory:
Larry Obhof, Republican from Medina
Kirk Schuring, Republican from Canton,
Sandra Williams, Democrat from Cleveland
Kenny Yurko, Democrat from Richmond Heights
Matt Dolan, Republican from Chagrin Falls
John Eklund, Republican from Munson (you won’t get to vote against him; he quits)
You can’t blame this debacle on the Democrats. Sixteen of the nineteen are REPUBLICANS, folks. Maybe it’s time to consider alternative partisan procedures. If the Republicans can sell you out this easily in favor of brown-nosing to Big Energy, what other nasty things can they do to you before you figure out a new strategy?
Election season is just ahead. . . but the August 1 “vote” comes first.