Fight against nuclear plant bailout falls short, group looks to next steps

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — House Bill 6 becomes law at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

The law creates a $1 billion bailout plan for two nuclear power plants owned by First Energy Solutions.

The bill passed through the statehouse and was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine over the summer.

Opponents want it repealed and said the decision should be left up to the voters.

The group Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts had until Monday to submit enough signatures to get the issue on the 2020 ballot. However, the group failed to get enough.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts needed more than 250,000 signatures. A spokesperson wouldn’t say how many they fell short by, but added the fight is not over.

When the group launched the repeal effort, it was and still is hoping for a different outcome.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t reach our goals, but we hope we get a second chance through the court to hit those goals and put this bill on the ballot,” said Gene Pierce, spokesperson for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts.

The efforts toward that second chance start Tuesday in federal court. Pierce said due to what he calls hurdles in state law when it comes to trying to bring law to a referendum, they lost 38 days of signature collecting.

“If we had had those 38 days, we could have hit that legal requirement of 265,744,” Pierce said.

To fund the billion-dollar bailout, customers will see additional charges on their electric bills starting in 2021. Pierce argues because voters will be paying for it, voters should get to decide.

“That’s taking money out of every residential consumers’ pocket, every business’ pocket, where they have to pay an electric bill,” Pierce said.

Opponents of the bailout also said it’s a step in the wrong direction for renewable energy in Ohio.

Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder issued a statement in favor of House Bill 6 Monday, saying it’ll be good for consumers, solar energy, and the state overall.

Ohioans for Energy Security is another group in favor of the bailout. It has been accused of questionable campaign tactics against the repeal efforts. A spokesperson issued a statement Monday, writing, in part:

“Bailout issues can be emotional and highly charged. Both sides worked hard to engage Ohio voters.”

The hearing for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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