Bowling Green City Council let its voice be heard Monday night in opposition to a pending bill in the Ohio legislature that could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, and raise electric rates.
Council introduced and passed a resolution opposing House Bill 6.
The bill “unnecessarily penalizes municipalities like Bowling Green that have done the right things and invested heavily in clean air energy sources,” said council president Michael Aspacher during the meeting. “So it’s not hard for me to support this resolution this evening opposing the bill.”
According to the legislative package document prepared for council, the bill, “subsidizes FirstEnergy Solutions’ two nuclear power plants by the creation of a Clean Air Program that is only available to nuclear power. It also eliminates the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the city’s ability to sell Renewable Energy Credits in Ohio.
“This will reduce revenue to the electric utility which will cause a rate increase to Bowling Green electric customers. There are many other concerns about this legislation. The city has been in contact with State Representative Haraz Ghanbari and State Senator Theresa Gavarone to express these concerns with HB6.
“Staff is reviewing the final version of HB6 and the impact on the city at this time,” the document states.
The measure was passed by the Ohio House on May 29, and now goes to the Ohio Senate.
Mayor Richard Edwards said they are looking into whether some things could be grandfathered in for the bill so that the tax credit wouldn’t be lost “because we’ve made a huge investment.”
Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell was among a delegation from the city – which included Aspacher and Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter – that recently went to Columbus and spoke with Gavarone, R-Ohio.
Asked by councilwoman Sandy Rowland to provide talking points about how HB6 would affect the city, O’Connell said that Bowling Green, under the Renewable Portfolio Standards, sells Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), bringing in revenue to the electric utility.
Currently, the city earns about $1 million annually from that market. HB6 would eliminate that.
The city would, however, still be able to sell them in other states, but that’s complicated by a number of factors. Some other states’ regulations devalue out-of-state RECs or don’t allow certain ones to be sold. There’s also the possibility that the change in the market could result in RECs simply being worth less.
As a rough estimate, O’Connell said the city could lose $400,000 in revenue annually due to HB6 if it is passed into law.
Councilman Greg Robinette said he was disappointed by the Ohio House’s vote on the bill, and that he had had a telephone conversation with Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg. Robinette said Ghanbari indicated that, even if the bill passed as written, there would be an opportunity for subsequent legislation to “achieve what we want to achieve.” In such a case, Robinette said Ghanbari assured him that the city would have a seat at the table in future negotiations.
“The doors aren’t closed if we lose this first round,” Robinette said. However, he later added “I am disappointed that our interests in Wood County aren’t being looked after right now.”
The resolution was given its second and third readings, and passed with six votes in favor. Councilman William Herald, who is employed by solar panel manufacturer FirstSolar, abstained, explaining he did not want there to be any possibility of a vote or comment by him on the issue construed as a conflict of interest.