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Ohio Senate takes up bill to save Ohio's struggling nuclear plants through customer utility charge

Posted at 4:23 PM, Jun 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-03 18:19:00-04

CLEVELAND — The Ohio State Senate will take up House Bill 6 this week, the plan to financially rescue Ohio's struggling Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear plants.

The bill, which was approved by the house last week, would repeal renewable energy standards that require investment in alternative energy options, such as wind and solar. It also eliminates clean air incentives for renewable energy projects. The majority Republicans backing the bill over Democrats' objections want to help nuclear plants that FirstEnergy Solutions says will close unless the company gets help.

The plan generates about $200 million annually through charges tacked onto monthly residential and business electricity bills. The residential charge is $2.50 a month.

Lake County State Rep. Jamie Callender said last week the impact on the region would be devastating should Perry close in 2021, which FirstEnergy Solutions has threatened to do without support from the state.

"In that area we have 4,300 primary and secondary jobs, good jobs, that depend on the plants that this bill will allow to keep operating," Callender said.

Those opposed say it would get rid of clean energy standards that have been in place for the last decade and threaten projects in the works not protected in the bill.

"There are 10,000 megawatts of solar in development in the state of Ohio right now," said State Rep. David Leland of Columbus. "Ten thousand megawatts of solar power would furnish energy for millions of homes, and yet every one of those projects was at risk if we do away with the renewable portfolio standards."

In a conversation with News 5 last month, Governor Mike DeWine said he believed it was important for Ohio from an environmental and health point of view to reduce the amount of carbon that is being released into the air in the production of electricity.

"I think everyone should be able to agree on that," he said. "The situation is today that we cannot do that in Ohio without nuclear."

"So if you took nuclear off the table our numbers as far as carbon would just be horrible. They would be going in the wrong direction instead of the right direction. So at least in the foreseeable future in the next few years nuclear has to be a significant part of this," DeWine said.