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Reject starting nuclear bailout bill collections

Many Ohioans struggle to pay the bills during normal times. COVID-19 has made the task tougher, perhaps for millions.

Far from getting a break from state government, every electric consumer in Ohio may see higher utility bills, beginning in January. They are being ordered to cover a $1 billion, multiyear bailout of a few power companies. Two nuclear generating plants owned by a FirstEnergy subsidiary would be the primary beneficiaries.

State legislators agreed to the bailout, spelled out in what has become infamous as House Bill 6. Earlier this year, HB6 blew up in the General Assembly’s face, when federal agents arrested former state House of Representatives Speaker Larry Householder and a few associates. They are accused of engineering a $60 million bribery scheme to get HB 6 written into law.

After the arrests, there were calls for repeal of HB 6. That is easier said than done, however. Legislators have been debating just what to do about the law for months.

Time is running out. Effective Jan. 1, electric consumers are to have their bills increased to cover the bailout.

This week, state Rep. Jim Hoops, R-Napoleon, introduced a bill that, while not repealing HB 6, would prevent collection of at least $170 million to fund it during 2021. Each and every Ohio household would be spared higher utility bills if the measure is enacted. It should be — as soon as possible.

Perhaps some of the utilities slated to benefit from HB 6 are in genuine need of help. But so are Buckeye State residents.

They, too, need a bailout — and should get it.

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