To the editor:

Dear Constituents of the 91st Ohio House District, I write today to talk about House Bill 6, legislation that went into effect on Oct. 22, 2019.

I, along with Rep. Jamie Callendar, co-sponsored this piece of legislation. As stated on the long title of this bill, the purpose of the bill is the following: “To facilitate and continue the development, production, and use of electricity from nuclear, coal, and renewable energy resources in this state, to modify the existing mandates for renewable energy and energy efficiency savings, and to determine amounts of federal funding received from home weatherization services.”

This legislation does two very important things for the state of Ohio and for you as my constituent. First, it ensures Ohio will keep its diverse energy portfolio of gas, coal, nuclear and renewable energy (wind/solar). Second, it saves Ohio ratepayers conservatively $2.3 billion through the reductions and eliminations of prior mandates.

Some have mischaracterized House Bill 6 as a bailout bill. The fact is, House Bill 6 supported and expanded Ohio's diverse energy portfolio, including carbon-free power generation (nuclear and solar), while reducing outdated mandates. Two plants received subsidies to continue their operations: the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant and the Perry Nuclear Power Plant. Both plants produce strong, baseload electric generation and operate at over 90% efficiency, running 24/7. They also produce 90% of our zero-carbon emissions in Ohio, appealing to those who support “cleaner” energy.

It also hedges our bet, so to speak, if there were to be a “carbon tax” imposed by the federal government. But House Bill 6 did not only address the dire situation of those two nuclear plants; it opened up opportunities for renewable energy to come into Ohio. Prior to House Bill 6, there were zero utility scale solar projects in Ohio. With House Bill 6, there are six utility scale energy projects planned to be built here in Ohio and more underway. Two of those projects are located right here in the 91st House District, and they will be the largest in Ohio’s history.

This is possible because House Bill 6 requires that the generation be in Ohio, therefore creating Ohio jobs. Prior to House Bill 6, 76% of the Renewable Portfolio Standard fees collected on ratepayer bills were being sent out of state to support projects and jobs in neighboring states. The most effective change in House Bill 6 is through the policy that reduces and eliminates the prior mandates and, through the new law, directs those funds received by the mandates to stay in Ohio.

Prior to House Bill 6, there were two government mandates on your electric bill: Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Energy Efficiency (EE). The RPS mandates collected $65 million from Ohio ratepayers in 2019 and the EE mandate cost Ohio ratepayers $301 million last year. That works out to an average of $4 a month on your electric bill, depending who is your electric utility. It is significantly more for businesses and manufacturers, our job creators. Based on the policy of House Bill 6, the RPS mandate, which was set to double and continue to increase every year until 2027, was frozen, reduced and scheduled to sunset at the end of 2026, causing it to cease to exist. This specific policy under House Bill 6, without a doubt, is bringing savings to ratepayers.

Also under House Bill 6, the EE mandate, which was originally set to start to double in 2021, was eliminated. To be fair, the mandate was replaced by the Ohio Clean Air Fund, which is a replacement fee and that is capped at $170 million compared to the current estimate fees collected of $301 million in 2020, which is set to double and continue increasing from there. Additionally, the replacement sunsets the mandate at the end of 2027, as opposed to going on forever and keeps those dollars in Ohio. These are real savings to the ratepayers of Ohio.

Ohio ratepayers are set to save conservatively $2.3 billion under House Bill 6. This figure comes from the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission, a group of individuals that not only put bills in the correct form for legislators, but also analyze impacts that bills have on Ohioans. In this case, those impacts are the costs and savings brought to Ohioans by House Bill 6.

Now, I would like to turn to the allegations swirling in Columbus and throughout Ohio as they pertain to the five individuals, one of which is the former Ohio Speaker of the House, Larry Householder. First and foremost, I had absolutely no knowledge that any of the alleged actions were taking place. My campaign received contributions from many supporters, including FirstEnergy PAC and Friends of Larry Householder. All contributions I received have been completely legal and reported, as required with Ohio campaign finance laws. Additionally, I have given all contributions I received from FirstEnergy PAC and Friends of Larry Householder to entities throughout the 91st district that support our youth.

There is no doubt that the allegations against Householder are terrible and have absolutely no place in Ohio’s legislative process. I am confident we can all agree on that. But none of the core policies within House Bill 6 change because of the alleged “behind-the-scenes deal” involving the former speaker.

Ohio’s Clean Air Program saves billions of dollars, and I do not want to see that tacked back onto Ohio electric ratepayers. I believe there is only need for a repeal of House Bill 6 if there is a simultaneous replacement. The Ohio House of Representatives could also look at making changes within another bill that would address parts of House Bill 6 as a means to repeal and replace. I am proud of the work and knowledge I have gained from my work on House Bill 6.

I am disappointed and angry that a bill that carries my name and the work of many other good and hardworking people has been tarnished. However, I am also so very grateful for the texts and phone calls of support from people throughout the district. All I can do at this point is continue to work hard for you all in Ohio’s 91st House District, and that is exactly what I intend to do moving forward. Energy policy is complicated and legislation that pertains to it is difficult to fully comprehend. That being said, I encourage anyone who would like to discuss the policy around House Bill 6 to reach out to me at my office by calling (614) 466-3506 or emailing me at rep91@ohiohouse.gov.

Sincerely,
State Rep. Shane Wilkin
Ohio’s 91st House District