Legislators should maintain a healthy dose of professional doubt when considering House Bill 6. The bill trades one subsidy for another to shore up two nuclear power plants struggling in an era of lower prices and competition. Proponents argue the bill will save money and jobs.
How does a corporate bailout (paid for by customers) help customers? Whose money and jobs will it save?
Monitoring Analytics, the organization that independently reviews PJM (Ohio’s regional electricity market), offers a clearer picture of the situation.
Ohio’s electricity sector is dynamic — even with announced closures, there are thousands of megawatts of excess reserves. It’s more fuel-diverse than ever. Plants with thousands more megawatts and billions of investment are in line for construction. In contrast, Ohio’s nuclear plants were more expensive than any other nuclear power plant in PJM except two for the past decade.
HB 6 does not solve a crisis hidden in the complexities of the electric grid. It is simply a subsidy program to save a single company’s money and jobs.
No company wants to compete — they’d much rather be guaranteed customers. When legislators entertain subsidies like HB 6, they’re subtly saying “May the best lobbyist win!” But competitive markets force companies to find ways to deliver better, more affordable service to people. If they don’t, their competitors will.
Rather than double down on subsidy programs, legislators need to eliminate them all.
This piece originally appeared in The Columbus Dispatch