FirstEnergy is keeping the pressure on Ohio lawmakers to resume hearings on a bill that would create subsidies for the utility’s nuclear power plants.
FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones told members of the state Senate’s Public Utilities Committee that its Davis-Besse and Perry plants, the only nuclear plants in the state, might not ever be able to survive financially if they have to compete head on with low cost natural gas fired generation in the competitive wholesale power market.
- Senate Bill 128 would create a zero emission nuclear credits (ZEN) program that would provide an estimated $300 million a year in subsidies to the nuclear plants for 16 years and raise consumers’ monthly electric bills by about 5%. Last week, Ohio lawmakers suspended hearings on the bill head of Jones's testimony.
Plans for nuclear power subsidies have been spreading across the eastern U.S. after New York and Illinois approved supports. In addition to Ohio, policymakers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut are considering payments.
The Ohio ZEN legislation was introduced earlier this spring. And it has attracted an array of opponents, including AARP, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, the Ohio branch of the American Petroleum Institute, the Alliance for Energy Choice, and the Electric Power Supply Association, a generator trade group.
Last week the Public Utilities Committee in the Ohio House of Representatives suspended hearings and a vote on a bill. A committee member said there was not “a keen desire” in the House to vote on the bill.
In the Senate, Sen. Bill Beagle (R), chairman of the Senate Public Utilities Committee, told The Columbus Dispatch he is sensitive to economic importance of the nuclear plants to their communities, but he is also looking at the impact on customer’s electric bills.
“I’m trying to give it careful consideration, and certainly, the issue is a complicated one. The jury is still out,” he told the paper.