Bill introduced to repeal nuclear subsidies

Larry Limpf

A state senator, who once supported House Bill 6 and its provisions that subsidized nuclear power plants in the state, is now sponsoring a bill that would repeal the nuclear resource credit program in the bill.
Senator Jerry Cirino, whose district includes Lake County where the Perry Nuclear Power Plant is located, testified recently before the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee as a sponsor of SB 44, which would eliminate nuclear subsidies in HB 6 but continue subsidies for large-scale solar operations.
“The nuclear resource subsidy provision in HB 6 has been the subject of a great deal of discussion in the legislature since its passage in July of 2019. At that time, the operator of the nuclear plants in Ohio, (First) Energy Solutions, was in bankruptcy proceedings and attempting to reorganize,” Cirino told the committee. “Efforts to obtain assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy, the White House, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and PJM to support the continued operation of the two plants failed to produce results.
“Having failed at the federal level we then turned to the state for support. HB 6 was the result of those efforts and was, I believe, predicated upon the view that supporting clean energy generation was sound energy policy and that, because of the lack of federal support and the financial status of the operator, the state needed to step in to protect its interests.”
With FirstEnergy Solutions emerging from bankruptcy as a new company, Energy Harbor, the circumstances have changed, Cirino said.
The energy policies “brewing in Washington will present a friendlier environment supporting the continued utilization of these nuclear assets,” he said, adding that HB 6 had two goals: to protect the continued generation of clean energy and protect the communities that are home to the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant and Perry plant from economic calamity.
If passed, SB 44 would eliminate the per-customer monthly charges that electric distribution utilities were to start collecting Jan. 1 of this year under HB 6 for the nuclear subsidies.
Those payments were to continue until Dec. 31, 2027.
SB 44 for the most part retains the renewal energy credit program but changes the term “renewable” to “solar” in the provisions covering the program enacted under HB 6.
The proposed senate bill retains a solar charge but reduces the maximum monthly charge from 85 cents to 10 cents for residential customers and from $2,400 to $242 for industrial customers. The charge is projected to raise about $20 million annually for solar subsidies.
Earlier this month, FirstEnergy reached an agreement with the Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to end a profit rider included in HB 6 that would have cost customers an additional $102 million this year. In a separate court action in December, Yost blocked the projected $150 million in subsidies for the nuclear plants also contained in HB 6.
Other components remain of a court case Yost filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court but he said the parties have agreed to stay further proceedings until the end of federal criminal trials relaated to the passage of HB 6.


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