Cleveland.com: Is Ohio’s HB 6 bailing out nuclear and coal plants a tax - or a win for FirstEnergy Solution bondholders?

A political group opposing the repeal of House Bill 6 is running ads claiming the referendum would cede control over Ohio’s energy sector to China.

A political group opposing the repeal of House Bill 6 is running ads claiming the referendum would cede control over Ohio’s energy sector to China.

Voters may be surprised to know that Ohio’s anti-tax, Republican-run legislature imposed a new tax on Ohio’s electricity customers in July – House Bill 6, the FirstEnergy Solutions bailout bill.

That’s what Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions, HB 6’s chief beneficiary, claims in a lawsuit filed this week in the Ohio Supreme Court. And if the high court agrees with FirstEnergy Solutions, that would deny Ohio voters any chance to vote HB 6 up or down at the ballot box, because the state constitution forbids a statewide referendum on tax legislation.

The Ohio House vote to approve the HB 6 bailout was 51-38 – just one more than the 50 required; the Senate vote was 19-12, two votes more than required. And the bill’s supporters denied that it was a tax measure – then. Instead, the bill’s backers said it will let two non-air-polluting nuclear power plants, Perry and Davis-Besse on Lake Erie, keep generating. Without subsidies, the plants’ comparatively costly electricity can’t compete with electricity generated by natural gas.

Read the full editorial at Cleveland.com.