FirstEnergy / Nuclear Energy / Ohio Utility Bailouts

Revised Ohio nuclear ‘bailout’ bill raises more questions

An updated version of the bill would still exclude most wind and solar from clean air credits, while allowing payments to unspecified “reduced emissions resources” that could include gas and coal.

Perry Nuclear Power Station as seen from Headlands State Park, Mentor, Ohio (Credit: Wainstead/Public Domain)

COLUMBUS — “Republican lawmakers in the Ohio House introduced legislation Friday that would provide subsidies for two Ohio nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions, while at the same time defunding decade-old renewable energy and efficiency programs.

The bill also includes language to allow funds collected from ratepayers to ‘reduce the emissions from other generating technologies that can be readily dispatched to satisfy demand in real time,’ without specifying what technologies that could include.

The Ohio Clean Air Program created by the proposed legislation would provide an annual subsidy for any power plant producing zero carbon dioxide emissions at the rate of $9.25 for every megawatt-hour produced. While the word “nuclear” does not actually appear anywhere in the bill, this designation would include nuclear plants and potentially some wind and solar installations.

…Language deep in the bill indicates that the program might not be up and running until early 2021, that it would distribute money on a monthly basis while at the same time trying to accumulate an investment fund for future grants for the yet-to-be identified “reduced emissions resources.”

Program funding would come from new charges on customer electric bills throughout Ohio, though the two nuclear reactors are located in northern Ohio on the shore of Lake Erie and sell their power directly into the 13-state high-voltage grid managed by PJM Interconnection.

Householder said he expects the new surcharges to raise about $300 million a year from customers.”

— John Funk, Energy News Network

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