Ohio bails out its nuclear power plants

Company warned facilities would close without help

Staff /wire report


Ohio has become the latest state to hand out a billion-dollar financial rescue for its nuclear power plants.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine quickly signed the plan Tuesday, hours after lawmakers approved giving $150 million a year to the plants near Cleveland and Toledo.

The legislation will tack a new fee onto every electricity bill in Ohio while scaling back requirements that utilities generate more power from wind and solar.

FirstEnergy Solutions had been warning the plants would close within two years unless the government steps in and helps.

Many of the nation’s nuclear plants are struggling to compete with cheaper energy sources.

New York, New Jersey and Illinois are among states that have given out big bailouts to stop the power plants from closing.

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, who voted against the bailout, criticized the decision.

“The Ohio Legislature sided with corporate interests and gutted Ohio’s renewable energy and efficiency standards,” she said. “HB 6 harms our state’s growing renewable energy industry, our environment and working Ohioans who will now foot the bill for a corporate bailout. Once again, the Legislature has turned its back on the future at the expense of Ohio families, clean-energy workers, small businesses and the health of Ohioans.”

State Rep. Michael O’Brien of Warren, D-64th, who also voted against the bill, called it “nothing more than a bailout for failing nuclear plants. This is going to impact all electric consumers in Ohio. They’ll be unfairly contributing to these plants when they don’t receive their electricity from them. It’s bad policy.”

Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future – developing a gas-fired power plant in Lordstown and planning a second one next door – had harsh words for the nuclear bailout.

“A referendum will be formed immediately to totally destroy HB 6,” he said. “It will die in September 2019 and never get enacted, and when voters say no in [November] 2020, they will permanently kill HB 6.”

He called those who backed the bill “pay-to-play supporters” and said, “Ohioans know what political corruption is and will want no part of it.”

Siderewicz said the bill will not affect construction of the second plant in Lords-town because “House Bill 6 will soon be dead, [so] the answer is no.”

State Rep. Gil Blair of Mineral Ridge, D-65th, said: “This bill offers no aid to the gas-fired power plant located in Lordstown or” the additional plant slated for construction. “Although the bill is touted to save jobs and nuclear plants, there is no language contained in the legislation which guarantees either.”