what is house bill 6

If you follow Ohio’s political news, then you may have heard about House Bill 6. While we intentionally stay unbiased on political issues, this law could significantly impact OEP. Our goal in this Q&A is to inform you, our participating teachers, about possible changes to OEP programming as a result of this law.

What is House Bill 6 (HB6)? …the Cliff Notes Version

Also called the Ohio Clean Air Program, HB6 imposes a monthly fee to all investor owned utility ratepayers. That means you, if you or your school receive electricity from American Electric Power, Dayton Power & Light, FirstEnergy or Duke. Collected funds would be distributed to companies that generate carbon dioxide-free electricity. The biggest benefit is to Ohio’s two nuclear plants, owned by FirstEnergy Solutions, which would receive an estimated $150 million annually. At the same time, the monthly charges allowing the utilities to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency (like OEP’s e3/Be E3 Smart program) would be eliminated. 

I’m Just a Bill, Yes, I’m Only a Bill Not anymore. HB6 was signed into law by Governor DeWine in July.

School House Rock Didn’t Mention a Referendum In August, opponents submitted a referendum to overturn HB6. Referendum supporters now have until mid-October to collect 265,000 signatures. If successful, a vote on the referendum may be on the November 2020 ballot. FirstEnergy Solutions is currently asking the Ohio Supreme Court to block the referendum.

I’ve seen commercials claiming the Chinese are taking over Ohio’s energy system. What is that about? Both television and radio commercials began airing in late August against the HB6 referendum. The Columbus Dispatch did a fact check on the commercial’s claims. (Read More Time Article on HB6 Commercials or …Columbus Dispatch fact checks current media ads.)

What does all this mean for OEP?  The short answer, we don’t know yet. HB6 defunds the energy efficiency standards investor owned utilities are using to pay for the e3/Be E3 Smart program. Without this or alternative funding, OEP will no longer be able to offer energy efficiency programs. Additionally, funding from the e3/Be3 Smart programs support Energy Leadership Summits, Energy Workshops, Energy Tour/Blitz and the Youth Energy Celebration. Loss of funding for energy efficiency impacts most OEP programs. Changes would be implemented during the 2020-21 school year. (Note: The e3/Be E3 Smart program in Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, Columbia Gas of Ohio or Vectren service territories would not be impacted.)

However, there may be opportunities for utilities to voluntarily provide energy efficiency programs. With continued funding from our partners, OEP would maintain the efficiency program and other programs supported through these contracts. Over the coming months, we will be meeting with our partners to determine their commitment moving forward.

I love OEP programs! What can I do to support energy education?

  1. Become an informed voter. Research House Bill 6 and the impact it will have on Ohio’s energy future. (Read More: Columbus Dispatch article…What do I need to know about HB6?)
  2. Continue doing an amazing job implementing the e3/Be3 Smart program in your classroom. This program’s success over the last ten years is a direct result of your commitment to teaching the lessons, distributing the student efficiency kits and returning the family installation survey. Because of your dedication, OEP has proven these programs to be cost effective.

Thank you for your commitment to energy education and OEP. We will keep you posted as we learn more.

Been a while since you have seen School House Rock? Or do you have students that have never seen it? Here’s I’m Only a Bill.