Monday, Dec 11, 2017
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Reject this pitch for corporate welfare

FirstEnergy thinks that the nuclear power created at its Davis-Besse and Perry plants is so valuable to Ohio energy customers that they should pay a 5-percent hike in their power bills to support them.

In the state Senate, a bill introduced by Republicans John Eklund of Geauga County and Frank LaRose of Summit County, would create “zero-emissions credits” for FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants.

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The Davis Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor.

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Proponents have argued the credits reward FirstEnergy for producing power that doesn’t create any greenhouse gases.

This is a good thing, but keep in mind that the Ohio House is simultaneously trying to roll back Gov. John Kasich’s green-energy mandates that would set standards for Ohio power producers to get increasingly more energy each year from green sources such as wind and solar — neither of which produces greenhouse gases or nuclear waste.

This nuclear bailout bill would force a rate hike that only serves to artificially support one source of electricity in Ohio to the detriment of other energy sources.

FirstEnergy has acknowledged that its nuclear and coal plants are struggling to compete with natural gas. The company reported a $6.2 billion accounting loss for 2016 as the value of all its plants have fallen since abundant, cheaper natural gas became more readily available in recent years and deregulation has let consumers shop for their energy sources in a competitive market. The company has said it plans to sell the nuclear plants or shut them down by 2018.

If the free market is demonstrating that it won’t support FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants, why in the world should Ohio ratepayers do it artificially?

If the General Assembly truly wants to encourage zero-emissions energy production that benefits Ohio’s economy, it should vote down SB 128 and this blatant bailout for FirstEnergy.

If FirstEnergy’s nuclear power was really worth 5 percent more to Ohio consumers, they’d already be paying it willingly. But consumers will not be acquiring confidence in FirstEnergy anytime soon, and FirstEnergy will not be reforming itself anytime soon. The state Senate should reject this unjustifiable plea for corporate welfare. FirstEnergy must fend for itself.

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