Committee testimony: Opponents call bill a ‘bailout’ of Ohio nuclear plants

By: 
Larry Limpf

The Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants are not needed for the regional wholesale markets, Michael Haugh testified Wednesday before the Energy and Natural Resources on Energy Generation in the state legislature.
Testifying for the Office of Consumers’ Counsel, Haugh told the committee that the grid operator has procured more than enough power to serve consumers for the next three years and its procurement for the 2021/2022 planning year has been successful without including Davis-Besse and Perry plants in the mix.
Haugh offered opponent testimony on House Bill 6 to the committee, which began hearings on the bill the prior week with testimony from proponents.
The bill would create credits for companies that are certified as a clean air resource through the proposed Ohio Air Quality Development Authority. A credit of $9.25 will be available to companies for each megawatt hour of electricity produced.
To fund credits, electric utility customers will be required to pay a monthly fee. But the bill exempts consumers from charges they are now paying for renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
Haugh praised a law the legislature passed in 1999 that deregulated power plants and gave consumers the benefit of a competitive market with lower prices and higher innovation.
“This legislation (HB 6) is a step backwards from the 1999 law. The legislation would subsidize nuclear power plants and other plants,” he said.
Some of the others offering opponent testimony were:
-Luke Harms, of The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, who said the bill is a “mandated, customer-financed bailout of uneconomical power plants in the form of ‘clean air credits.’
“While manufacturers support nuclear power as part of an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy portfolio, we are strongly opposed to subsidizing certain generation plants and saddling Ohio consumers with hundreds of millions of dollars of unjustified charges…,” he said.

-Michael Beazley, Oregon city administrator, said Ohio has enjoyed the benefit of innovation and investment without legislation such as HB 6.
“A number of years ago, private investors without asking for state funding, built a high-capacity natural gas pipeline to supply the Oregon, Ohio area with gas. This pipeline, built with private risk, then led to the $900 million Oregon Clean Energy facility that currently produces what is the least expensive wholesale electricity being produced in Ohio in a volume every bit as large as that produced at the Davis-Besse facility, just at a much lower cost. Based on that same pipeline investment came a $100 million methanol plant that is currently under construction in Oregon.”

-Jane Harf, executive director, Green Energy Ohio, said HB 6 is a tax on ratepayers that will only “prop up aging and unsustainable nuclear plants, while at the same time stifling the development and deployment of new energy technologies that are engines of economic development for the state and its citizens.
“Ohio is home to more than 112,486 jobs in the clean energy sector, 5,000 of which were added in 2018.”
FirstEnergy Solutions has announced it plans to shut down the Davis-Besse plant by May 31, 2020 if it doesn’t receive financial support from the state or federal legislatures.
It also plans to deactivate the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Perry, Ohio. by May 2021 and units 1 and 2 of the Beaver Valley Power Station in Shippingport, Pa. by May 2021 and October 2021 respectively.

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