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In this hyper-partisan political moment, with cultural issues being debated fiercely, it’s important to remember that pocketbook issues are still the top priority for American voters. The more our elected officials concentrate on jobs, take home pay and cost of living, the more in tune they will be with their constituents.

That’s why I was glad to see a bipartisan consensus around House Bill 6, which recently passed the Ohio House of Representatives with double-digit votes from both Democrats and Republicans. This legislation would drastically reduce monthly electricity bills across the state, while protecting important middle-class jobs tied to Ohio’s two nuclear power plants.

Without HB 6, those plants will shutter, not only killing thousands of jobs but removing our only zero-carbon energy sources from Ohio’s energy grid for good. We simply can’t afford to voluntarily eliminate nuclear power and replace it with expensive subsidies for unproven renewables.

The rhetoric around this issue has been loud and misleading. Those opposed to HB 6 argue that it soaks taxpayers with the costs of a bailout. But in reality, it eliminates a monthly surcharge of over $4.50 paid by Ohio families to prop up renewables – which have been able to parlay that taxpayer support into generating only 3 percent of the state’s electricity. Wind energy, for all of its subsidies, produces a mere 1 percent of Ohio’s power generation. Those renewable subsidies are replaced with a much smaller $1 per month fee to keep reliable nuclear power in operation.

Protecting the environment is a priority, and I’m hopeful that at some point renewables can compete with other energy sources. But right now, they’re not, and lawmakers in Columbus shouldn’t be asking Ohio families to throw good money after bad. The fact of the matter is, nuclear is the cleanest source of electricity generation that we have. To allow these plants to fail while still hitting ratepayers with the cost of renewable subsidies would be a grave error.

At the end of the day, voters sent legislators to Columbus to deliver on pocketbook issues. They are there to enact policies that create jobs and keep families in Ohio. A vote against HB 6 is directly at odds with those goals – it will destroy over 4,000 jobs and leave cities and towns in Northwest and Northeast Ohio unable to cope with the impact on their economies and communities as people move elsewhere in search of work.

Throughout the rest of the state, we’ll all feel the squeeze of high electricity bills if HB 6 fails. Ohio’s economy has rebounded over the past few years, but this is not the time to hit taxpayers with high energy costs – especially to subsidize unproven and inefficient sources of electricity.

Politicians in Washington have proven that they’re unable to set partisanship aside and get things done. But here in Ohio, our representatives are working in a bipartisan fashion, passing HB 6 through the statehouse to cut electricity bills and save Ohio jobs. The Senate – fresh off a unanimous bipartisan vote for the state budget – should do the same and continue to reduce the government burden on Ohio families

Traci Saliba

Powell, Ohio

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