COLUMBUS – There’s no doubt you’ve heard a lot of discussion and arguments about what this bill actually does. As the chairman of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I listened to over 150 hours of testimony on HB 6. Additionally, I have invested almost 200 hours in studying the energy markets and how they work. One thing I can assure you of, is that it is complicated. Here are the facts.
Ten years ago, the Ohio legislature passed a piece of legislation that placed mandatory fees on all of our electric bills. These programs currently add, on average, $4.68 to every Ohioan’s electric bill. These fees are scheduled to double in just 2 years to $8 to $10 per month, per bill. HB 6 will end the two programs that authorize these fees, the Renewable Portfolio Standard mandate and the Energy Efficiency Program mandate and replace them with a less expensive program that will place a $1 fee on our electric bills. The $1 fee is capped and cannot change. In 6 years, the program will expire completely, ending all state subsidies in the energy sector.
While I would like to end all subsidies, in government, compromises have to be made in order to get things passed. Consequently, this is a step-down compromise to final elimination. Many of us have worked extremely hard over the past 10 years to finally bring these programs to an end and lower your rates.
Why are you hearing so much back and forth on this bill? The truth is, many do not appreciate their cash cows being taken away, and when you terminate government programs that total some $340 million dollars, there will be opposition. There are some making big money on these programs and they want them to stay. House Bill 6 will gradually reduce all the fees and in six years, end them all, saving Ohioans as much as $8 to $10 a month. That means we all get a $120 pay raise instead of indefinitely paying more mandatory, uncapped fees on programs that aren’t doing what they say they are doing.
An additional item in the bill is a provision where township citizens can vote to determine if they wish or do not wish to have 600-foot industrial wind turbines built in their communities. Currently, the entire decision-making process is done in Columbus and the local community has no say. I support local control, giving citizens the right to vote, and allowing Ohioans a say in what happens in their communities.
Reducing government was one of the reasons that I went to Columbus and this chance to repeal $340 million in government mandates in 6 years is a tremendous opportunity. Opportunities to cut government do not come along often and that’s why there was no question in my mind when House Bill 6 came to the floor.
I voted yes on HB 6 to reduce your electric bill, to eliminate all of these state mandatory fees, and to ensure that you always have a voice in our community.
Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) is the state representative for the 85th District.