Foes will ask Ohio voters to block money for nuke plants

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The fight over giving a financial lifeline to Ohio’s two nuclear plants by tacking a new fee onto every Ohioans’ electricity bill might not end even if state lawmakers agree on a solution this week.

That’s because a group led by investors in natural gas plants is promising an attempt to override the plan – if it’s approved – through a statewide vote next year.

What’s at stake goes beyond the debate over whether the legislation is really just a bailout of the nuclear industry and could become a campaign issue in Ohio’s 2020 legislative races.

“We will kill this thing dead because we know the public is against it,” said Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future, which has developed a handful of natural gas plants in Ohio, including Lordstown,

But first lawmakers must determine within the next few days if they’re willing to add a monthly surcharge on electricity bills to give nearly $200 million each year for the nuclear plants.

FirstEnergy Solutions, which operates the Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo and the Perry plant near Cleveland, says it needs to decide by the beginning of July whether to spend millions on refueling the plants or to shut them down.

The company maintains that it can’t afford to operate the nuclear plants unless the government steps in and helps reduce the costs. Without any aid, both plants are slated to close by 2021.