Ohio legislature sends bill revoking nuclear power subsidy to governor

NEW YORK, March 26 (Reuters) - Both houses of Ohio’s state legislature passed a bill that would repeal nuclear subsidies for Energy Harbor Corp’s Davis-Besse and Perry reactors in the state.

House Bill 128 (HB128) now heads to the governor’s office for approval after the House passed an amended version on Thursday. The legislation would confirm what state courts have already done in halting collection of the subsidies under House Bill 6 (HB6).

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s office said the governor intends to sign the bill but has not done so yet.

In 2019, the legislature passed HB6 to keep the money-losing nuclear plants in service to preserve jobs, tax revenues and because the reactors generate lots of energy without producing carbon dioxide emissions.

But HB6, which would pay Energy Harbor about $1 billion over six years, became tainted after it was revealed that it passed the legislature through alleged acts of bribery.

HB6 passed when Energy Harbor was still known as FirstEnergy Solutions, a bankrupt unit of FirstEnergy Corp, which threatened to close the reactors unless the state provided financial support.

Energy Harbor has not opposed the legislative efforts to end the nuclear subsidies because the company has said it has a favorable outlook of receiving some form of federal clean energy support, according to analysts at Height Capital Markets.

Officials at Energy Harbor were not immediately available for comment.

Those affected by the alleged bribery scandal so far include Larry Householder, the former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, who was arrested by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in July 2020; Charles (Chuck) Jones, CEO of FirstEnergy, who was fired by the company in October 2020; and Samuel Randazzo, who resigned as chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in November 2020 after the FBI searched his home.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Aurora Ellis