As Perry Nuclear Power Plant continues its shutdown for refueling future remains up in the air

Posted at 10:38 PM, Mar 22, 2017

The ongoing refueling work at Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Lake County is preparing the 30-year-old plant for the next two years and beyond, continuing to generate electricity for more than a million homes mostly in Northeast Ohio. Owner FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company though announced in February they’re looking to get out of the competitive generating business.

"That could be selling the plant, it could be finding some type of solution that would bring it into a more regulated like environment or it could mean closing," said FirstEnergy Spokesperson Jennifer Young.

Closing would have a devastating impact on this Lake County community where the plant employs more than 700 people and generates around $14 million a year in property and payroll taxes. While it may be an option it is an unlikely one; the plant is licensed to operate through 2026 and is eligible for renewal which would take it to 2046.

The challenges nuclear faces in Ohio are real though - operating in a climate where energy prices are half what they were in a state where deregulation has taken its toll.

"You can get into the subsidies that some of the generating types benefit from that we don't have that same type of subsidy," said Plant Vice President David Hamilton who is overseeing the complex refueling process.

FirstEnergy would like to see the state adopt a Zero Emissions Nuclear Program which the state legislature is expected to consider. It’s a measure that would recognize nuclear as a clean energy source much like credits provided for wind and solar.

"Nuclear in Ohio generates about 90 percent of the carbon free electricity that that we have in the state,” said Young.

“It doesn't emit anything other than water vapor and it’s an important asset to keep around as the whole country moves towards a cleaner energy future." Combined Perry and Davis-Besse outside of Toledo power around 2.8 million homes or 11 percent of the power consumed in the state each year.