Energy / FirstEnergy

Nuclear industry looks to reshape image

It can help meet carbon reduction goals but can’t compete on cost

FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo is one of the plants included in the company's power purchase agreement proposal, which is scheduled to be heard next week as part of a broader plan.

FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo.

TOLEDO — “Crippled by a historic, game-changing fracking revolution that has imploded energy markets across the world, the U.S. nuclear industry is trying harder than ever to market itself as an irreplaceable ally in the war against climate change.

It is eager to get going on a new generation of plants that are smaller, leaner, faster, easier to manage, and more attractive to private investors.

At stake could be the degree to which electricity ratepayers in Ohio and other states end up subsidizing the nuclear industry.

…In a highly contentious rate request argued for months before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, FirstEnergy originally sought a guaranteed cash flow of up to 15 years to ensure the viability of Davis-Besse and the utility’s massive coal-fired Sammis plant in southern Ohio.

Last month, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission struck down a modified plan, state regulators unanimously agreed to let FirstEnergy impose $132.5 million a year in new surcharges on its 1.9 million customers over the next three years. That comes to about $3 more a month for a typical residential customer. The deal is substantially less than FirstEnergy’s attempted compromise for an eight-year deal at $558 million per year for a total of $4.5 billion.

Critics have decried each proposal as a bailout, while the utility argued the money is necessary to help stabilize it.

But Ohio’s handling of FirstEnergy requests has been watched closely by other states which are undecided about the degree to which they should support nuclear power.”

— Tom Henry, Toledo Blade

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