FirstEnergy nuclear bailout (House Bill 6)

FirstEnergy has made its legislative priority for 2019 clear: bailouts for the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants, which are owned by subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions, and scheduled to close in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The version of FirstEnergy’s nuclear bailout bill, House Bill 6 (HB 6), that just passed the Ohio House of Representatives would also subsidize two old and dirty coal plants—Kyger Creek in southern Ohio and Clifty Creek in Indiana.

This push for a government-mandated bailout arrives as FirstEnergy attempts to formally separate itself from FirstEnergy Solutions, which is currently going through bankruptcy, in part thanks to its aging coal and nuclear plants. The plants are no longer able to compete with cheap natural gas and the increasingly competitive price of renewable energy. This bailout request also comes just as Governor Mike DeWine takes office. FirstEnergy ranks as the top campaign contributor in each of Mr. DeWine’s last three elections (for governor and attorney general).

FirstEnergy has already received $11 billion from consumer bailouts

This isn’t the first time FirstEnergy has asked consumers to bail them out, and if they receive this money, it certainly won’t be the last. In the past 20 years, FirstEnergy has received $11 billion from bailouts. And this time, it won’t just be FirstEnergy customers whose rates increase. HB 6 would be a bailout tax on every Ohioan, no matter what service territory you live in. Over the next 10 years, HB 6 would cost Ohioans $1.59 billion in subsidies to nuclear and coal plants.

HB 6 would also repeal our states renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. This would eliminate a source of funding for the clean energy industry in Ohio, a sector that employs over 10,000 people in our state. It would also mean higher electric bills for households due to lost energy efficiency savings.   

Ohio consumers shouldn’t have to pay extra to bail out uncompetitive and aging plants, especially since these plants aren’t necessary to meet Ohio’s energy needs.

The CEO of the PJM Interconnection, which operates the power grid in Ohio, told Bloomberg Television that 18,000 MW of coal and nuclear plants are slated to close this year, but the grid could handle 30,000 MW of closures without inconveniencing customers. A 2018 analysis from PJM ruled that all of FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear plants that are scheduled for closure can be shuttered without affecting our grid reliability.

If these nuclear plants receive yet another bailout, they will be open for at least another 18 years. Ohio consumers can’t afford nearly two more decades of increased electricity rates to pay for nuclear plants that aren’t needed.

Contact your legislators and tell them you’re against FirstEnergy’s nuclear bailout and to vote NO on House Bill 6.

To read the bill in its current and past versions, visit the Ohio Senate’s website’s page about the bill here.

See how your state representative voted on HB 6 here.