First Energy calls for tax-payer bailout of financially failing nuclear power stations
FirstEnergy exec calls for ‘urgent’ aid, Toledo Blade, Belcher: Davis-Besse’s premature closing is real, By | BLADE STAFF WRITER March 25, 2017 OAK HARBOR, Ohio — Calling warnings of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant’s premature closure “real” and the need for a bailout “urgent,” FirstEnergy Corp.’s top nuclear official left little doubt Friday that Ottawa County’s largest employer is in trouble.
Sam Belcher, FirstEnergy’s chief nuclear officer, said the utility’s other nuclear plants — the Perry nuclear plant east of Cleveland and the twin-reactor Beaver Valley complex northwest of Pittsburgh — are likewise in danger of premature closing by the summer of 2018 unless a buyer emerges or the utility gets help from legislators in Ohio and Pennsylvania……
“Our plants have been losing money. We’ve continued to operate them at a loss. But, at some point, those economics don’t make sense,” Mr. Belcher told The Blade during an hourlong telephone interview from his corporate office in Akron.
He discussed reasons why FirstEnergy announced just before Christmas it was going to “exit competitive generation.”
“We no longer can be exposed to continually changing market conditions,” Mr. Belcher said.
The utility decided in December to give the situation another 18 months to play out.
Now, three months closer to that self-imposed deadline, nothing meaningful has been done to turn around the situation in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Mr. Belcher said.
“The situation is real. It’s urgent,” Mr. Belcher said. “In the absence of something happening, we’re going to have to make some tough decisions.”……
So now — barring legislation on the federal level — FirstEnergy is studying how New York passed a bill in its state legislature to save the James A. FitzPatrick and Robert Emmett Ginna nuclear plants in upstate New York from premature closings, and how Illinois followed suit with plants in the southern part of that state. It also is tracking bills being considered or expected to be submitted in Connecticut and New Jersey, Mr. Belcher said.
“We’re hopeful something like that could be in the cards in Ohio,” he said.
No bill sponsor has been identified in Ohio, said Jennifer Young, a FirstEnergy spokesman.
But according to a column written by John Funk of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, the utility began shopping around a 13-page document to lawmakers in January, outlining a proposal to increase customers’ monthly bills by at least 5 percent in order to raise an extra $300 million a year in perpetuity. The report said the Plain Dealer downloaded a copy before it was removed from the Internet.
Critics such as Dick Munson of the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund claim it is the latest bailout attempt for a corporation that has mismanaged its assets…….
FirstEnergy’s message will likely mirror that which has been promoted on Capitol Hill by the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute for Congress.
The NEI argues nuclear plants — to give the nation more diversity in fuel sources, thereby strengthening national security — should receive special consideration in energy markets for what it calls their “unique attributes.”…..
Some emissions occur within the nuclear industry on a cradle-to-grave basis, including the process of mining, milling, and packing uranium into fuel assemblies; spent fuel’s transportation and disposal, and production of vast amounts of concrete and steel used to build plants.
But an NEI analysis shows that only solar and hydroelectric power do better in terms of cradle-to-grave emissions, producing 14 and 15 tons of carbon dioxide per gigawatt hour of electricity generated, respectively, to nuclear’s 17. The footprints of natural gas and coal are exponentially greater, 622 and 1,041 tons of carbon dioxide per gigawatt hour of electricity generated, according to the NEI study. http://www.toledoblade.com/Energy/2017/03/25/FirstEnergy-exec-calls-for-urgent-aid.html
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