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Consumers' Counsel Wants HB6 Coal Plant Subsidies Repealed

Jeff Jacobson testifies at committee
The Ohio Channel
The Ohio Channel
Jeff Jacobson, representing the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, testifies at the Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

The state's consumer watchdog is calling for the repeal of coal plant subsidies, which were approved in the controversial nuclear bailout bill, House Bill 6, now at the center of an alleged bribery scheme. The Ohio Consumers' Counseloffice says the coal plant subsidies mean ratepayers are bearing the cost of inefficient plants.

HB6 set up a cost recovery mechanism for two coal plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, one plant in Ohio and another in Indiana.

Jeff Jacobson, with the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, backs a bipartisan Senate bill, SB117, that seeks to end that subsidy structure. Jacobson says it can guarantee hundreds of millions of dollars to coal plants struggling to sell in the energy market.

"The House Bill 6 subsidies have worsened the coal plants' response to the market by removing the market's discipline for increasing efficiencies or decreasing expenses. Consumers bear the cost," Jacobson told the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

But AEP, a part owner of OVEC, says the plants do operate efficiently and provide a reliable source of energy and jobs.

"OVEC costs have been recovered in customer rates for over a decade. OVEC continues to provide Ohio customers with reliable generation service and OVEC employees have worked hard to operate the plant efficiently. We are monitoring the progression of this bill and will work to ensure that policymakers understand the value of the reliable service that OVEC provides," Scott Blake, AEP media relations and policy communications manager, said in a written statement.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow
Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.