COLUMBUS Supporters of the bid to place a referendum on the 2020 ballot to repeal House Bill 6 — the ratepayer-financed bailout of Ohio’s pair of nuclear power plants — soon can begin gathering signatures on petition forms.
After rejecting the first attempt at wording as inaccurate Aug. 12, Attorney General Dave Yost approved the summary language for petitions as “fair and truthful” Thursday.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose still must certify 1,000 of the 2,246 signatures submitted with the petition language as valid before the petition drive can begin. LaRose’s office faces a Friday deadline to certify the signatures.
A group opposed to House Bill 6 — Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts — needs to obtain the valid signatures of 265,774 registered voters by Oct. 21 to place a referendum before voters on the November 2020 ballot.
Signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine, the measure will impose an 85-cent monthly charge on residential electricity bills to generate $150 million a year to subsidize the Lake Erie plants owned by Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions. The company threatened to close the plants without a subsidy.
The bill also extends a charge to electricity customers to support two coal-burning power plants owned by a consortium of Ohio utilities, including Columbus-based American Electric Power, and reduces green-energy standards.
Supporters contend the law is necessary to preserve thousands of jobs at the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants and retain Ohio’s largest and cleanest source of electrical energy.
Opponents say the law represents a taxpayer-paid bailout of the corporate sector and further imperils Ohio’s advancement toward sources of clean energy.
Both sides in the fight are well financed and a looming battle of TV ads, which was launched this week, will follow millions in dark money TV ads designed to lobby public support for the bill.