NAPOLEON — The Napoleon City Council will draft legislation formally opposing Ohio House bills 6 and 163, following a decision made during a special council meeting Thursday morning.
House Bill 6, “the nuclear bailout bill,” would impose a $1-per-month surcharge on households to fund a “clean air program,” with most of the nearly $200 million to be raised annually benefiting plants that emit no carbon dioxide, specifically, the state’s two nuclear power plants, owned by bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions. Two coal-fired plants owned by Ohio Valley Electric Corp. also would benefit.
FirstEnergy Solutions has said both its plants will be closed by 2021 without the funds.
Napoleon city manager Joel Mazur said the American Municipal Power (AMP) board, of which Napoleon is a member, is opposed to the bill.
The problem for Napoleon, said Mazur, who serves as the city’s representative on the AMP board, is the bill “basically guts the whole program for renewable energy credits.”
Napoleon’s power portfolio is 26 percent renewables, Mazur said. The city sells renewable energy credits on the market.
“This would essentially penalize us for having more renewable resources as part of our portfolio,” Mazur said. “We went ahead and took the initiative to be proactively invested in renewable resources.”
Supporters of the bill, mainly Republicans, say doing away with green-energy mandates will lead to an overall cost savings for consumers. Opponents maintain it’s little more than a bailout tax, and decry the bill’s dismantling of decade-old renewable energy programs.
“It’s a big deal for us, because getting rid of the renewable energy credit system, which is essentially what this does, harms us financially in our projects,” Mazur said.
As Napoleon has its own municipal electric system, rates in the city wouldn’t be impacted by the surcharge.
Meanwhile, House Bill 163 would set limits on how a municipality can price its water and sewer service to satellite customers, and penalize municipalities that surcharge those customers.
“Essentially it diminishes our right as water utility owners to negotiate and set our own rates,” Mazur said.
Napoleon recently offered its satellite water customers — Liberty Center, Florida, Malinta and the Henry County Water and Sewer District — a reduction from 25% to zero surcharge, after rate increases prompted the satellites to investigate other sources of water.
Per the bill, Local Government Funds would be withheld from communities deemed to be using improper pricing practices.
The funds would then be redistributed to the communities impacted by those practices.
The Ohio Municipal League (OML) has opposed the bill as an attack on home rule.
Council voted Thursday to have city law director Billy Harmon draft legislation opposing each bill.
Also Thursday, Council President Joe Bialorucki and Councilman Lori Siclair were appointed to serve on the personnel committee. That committee is scheduled to meet today at noon.