As Ohio is close to rescuing FirstEnergy’s two nuclear reactors in the state from early retirement by providing financial subsidies, opponents of the nuclear and coal industries and proponents of green energy say that the move may very well be the “death blow” to renewables in the state.
On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate passed a bill to set up subsidies of US$150 million annually for the nuclear power plants Davis-Besse and Perry, owned by FirstEnergy Solutions. The bill is expected to be sent to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine this week, Josh Price, a senior analyst at Height Capital Markets, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Last year, FirstEnergy Solutions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and sought legislative and regulatory relief at the state and federal level to keep certain nuclear and coal plants in the region operational. FirstEnergy Solutions has said that it would retire early, in 2020 and 2021, its two reactors unless it receives financial help to keep them operational.
The Ohio state legislature and governor are poised to grant those requests with the new bill, which drew a lot of criticism from opponents of the nuclear and coal industries.
“Renewable energy is our future; energy efficiency is our future - if we’re going to have a future. And that is all being sacrificed at the altar of nuclear power in Ohio if this thing passes,” Kevin Kamps, a Radioactive Waste Watchdog at the organization Beyond Nuclear and a longtime opponent of FirstEnergy Solutions, told Radio Sputnik in an interview.
“The nuclear and coal industry in Ohio have sabotaged the renewable energy industry. This bailout may be the death blow. In fact, there are very specific provisions in this legislation that would really gut any renewable support in Ohio whatsoever,” Kamps said.
Taxpayer watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste described the planned subsidies for the Ohio nuclear power plants as “outrageous” and added:
“This taxpayer funded bailout will raise monthly bills ranging from around $1 for residential customers all the way up to $2,400 for the largest companies in the area. This huge additional charge could cause some of these larger employers to leave the Buckeye State. This bailout could cost Ohio valuable jobs.”