COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Opponents are praising a decision to suspend deliberations on the proposed financial rescue of Ohio’s two nuclear plants, even as Akron-based FirstEnergy continues to push for the deal.
House Public Utilities Chairman Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, discontinued testimony on legislation containing the proposal Wednesday after vocal protests by consumer, business, and environmental groups and energy competitors.
The plan calls for a special fee charged to customers that the company argues is necessary to secure the future of its aging Davis-Besse and Perry plants. The two facilities produce 14 percent of Ohio’s electricity.
FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones took his case to the Ohio Senate on Thursday, testifying for more than an hour before the Senate Public Utilities Committee on separate legislation containing the bailout plan.
Exactly how much the plan would generate for the nuclear plants isn’t clear because subsidies are based on a complex formula involving plant emissions. Recently approved subsidy deals in New York and Illinois aimed at stopping unprofitable nuclear plants from closing prematurely cost billions.
Seitz’s decision to sideline the proposal was praised by the Coalition Against Nuclear Bailouts, a group of more than 50 organizations that has joined forces to fight the plan. The coalition includes the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, associations representing bars, bowling alleys and other small businesses, and a host of local community representatives.
Commissioner Pete Gerken of Lucas County, which includes Toledo, said the proposal would cause families and businesses in FirstEnergy’s territory to “foot the hefty bill.”
“Further, this proposed bailout would pick winners and losers in the energy generation market and could drive private investment, jobs and tax revenues for local governments and schools out of Lucas County and other areas of the state,” he said.
The Lucas County commissioners, in northwest Ohio, and the mayor of Lordstown, in northeast Ohio, are among groups that announced opposition to the bailout ahead of Seitz’s action.
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