State should not bail out old nuclear power plants

First Energy Solutions, which expects the state of Ohio to save its financially ailing Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants, has perpetrated an advertising hoax that should be widely condemned.

By now, Mahoning Valley residents will have seen the television commercial that features individuals who tell sob stories about losing their jobs if House Bill 6 does not become law.

The measure, which passed the Republican-controlled House with 10 Democratic votes, is now before the GOP-controlled Senate.

The falsely named “Ohio Clean Air” bill – the word “bailout” is avoided like the plague – is expected to win Senate approval and to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

But here’s the kicker regarding the TV ad airing in the Valley: It urges residents to contact area Sen. Michael Rulli, R-33rd, and tell him to vote for HB 6 for the good of the state.

Rulli, who won election in November, would be well advised to consider the ramifications of bailing out the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear plants that are slated to close by 2021.

If the bill becomes law, First Energy Solutions would receive $170 million a year that would be paid by all households and businesses in Ohio – even those that do not receive their electricity generated by the two plants.

Not only does the financial involvement by government in a private company run counter to Republican political orthodoxy, but Rulli is undoubtedly aware that the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association is opposed to the measure.

In addition, workers in the legitimate clean-energy industry and those involved in energy efficiency are against the state propping up two nuclear power plants that are on their last legs.

In addition, a provision in the bill obligates many Ohio ratepayers to subsidize two coal-fired plants.

As, the Plain Dealer’s online edition, noted in a recent editorial, HB 6 has become “a platter of goodies for deep-pocketed special interests who spent liberally – not just in advocating for this legislation, but also on [state Rep. Larry] Householder’s efforts to get his supporters elected or re-elected, so they could choose him as speaker.”

Householder’s ally noted that one of Householder’s allies is Rep. Nino Vitale, a Republican from Urbana. Vitale is chairman of the Ohio House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The newspaper noted that the chairman revealed his disdain for those who could be hurt by the bill’s elimination of requirements that utilities help customers save on energy use by saying in an email that “a little hunger in the belly of being a little cold on some really cold days” can be a good thing.

As Sen. Rulli, whose district includes Mahoning and Columbiana counties, contemplates the state bailing out the aging nuclear plants, we would urge him to ignore the false television commercial about clean energy and talk to a major investor in the Valley, Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future.

Clean Energy has launched a $900 million gas-powered electricity generating plant known as Lordstown Energy Center, which is providing a major economic boost to the region.

A second Lordstown plant, to be called Trumbull Energy Center, is on the verge of becoming a reality.

Siderewicz said recently that he and his partners are putting together $925 million in financing, but he is concerned about the state propping up the two northern Ohio nuclear power plants.

The president of CEF warned that passage of HB 6 could harm the two Lordstown facilities. Each one is designed to generate 940 megawatts of electricity.

Here are some numbers Rulli and other area state legislators should consider as they decide on Ohio’s energy future: Trumbull Energy Center is expected to bring $1.8 billion in economic benefits to the state from construction to 40 years of operation, including payments to local schools and governments.

Gas transportation and purchases will add another $10 billion in economic benefits, according to the company’s website.

CEF is promoting the new plant, which will employ natural gas-fired combined cycle turbine technology and catalytic converters, as a source of clean, if not renewable, energy, according to a website that focuses on construction equipment.

Clean Energy Future notes that natural gas plants have 90 percent less air emissions than coal-fired plants for typically regulated emissions.

Here’s some advice for Sen. Rulli and other area state legislators: Don’t be swayed by the advertising scam perpetrated by First Energy Solutions to win support for the state bailout of its two nuclear power plants.