Today, the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund announced a statewide television ad buy calling on members of the Ohio General Assembly to vote against granting subsidies for coal power plants.
House Bill 239 (Smith, R., Carfagna)/Senate Bill 155 (Terhar, Peterson) would allow electric utilities to stick Ohio families with the bill for their bad business decisions to invest heavily in two outdated coal plants. The proposals create a surcharge on Ohio customers’ electric bills to subsidize the failing Kyger Creek power station in Cheshire, Ohio and the Clifty Creek power plant in Madison, IN.
“As a hardworking Ohioan, I go to great lengths to budget and make prudent financial decisions for myself and my family,” said Trish Demeter, managing director of energy with the OEC Action Fund. “Why should we not expect the same behavior from corporate utilities in Ohio? If I were to make a bad choice to invest in fax machines at a time when everyone else was moving towards cloud computing, how could I reasonably ask Ohio policymakers to bail me out when I lose a ton of money on my fax machine investment?”
The surcharge would apply to all Ohioans’ even seniors on fixed income and those below the poverty line. Residential customers would pay up to an extra $2.50 per month, and business owners could be on the hook for an extra $2,500 per month.
“These bills are unfair on so many levels. First, they would send Ohio families’ and small business owners’ hard-earned dollars to fund poor business decisions made by corporate utilities,” said OEC Action Fund Director Aryeh Alex. “Second, the same lawmakers who reject Ohio’s successful clean energy standards on the basis of the ‘free market’ want to give two failing coal plants a guaranteed subsidy for the next 13 years!. These rate-payer funded subsidies distort trends in the market that are pushing electric utilities to cleaner, more efficient generation options.”
In addition to costs associated with providing subsidies for these plants, the dangers to public health are inherent. Every year, these two coal plants produce thousands of tons of coal ash, mercury, smog-forming pollutants and carbon dioxide, as well as other pollutants. The plants also produce noxious toxins like hydrochloric and sulfuric acid, which can cause numerous health problems for people living nearby. Specifically, the Ohio-based Kyger Creek power plant is thought to be responsible for 280 asthma attacks and 18 deaths each year.
Despite the health risks and additional costs for Ohioans, the proposed legislation that would lock in ratepayer-funded subsidies for outdated coal plants for the next 13 years. This is bad policy making that undermines the path to energy sources of the future and Ohioans’ right to clean air and healthy communities.
The ads will begin running on television starting June 20th across Ohio, with an additional statewide digital buy.