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Nuclear bailout bill introduced in Ohio Senate- with some strong reactions

FirstEnergy Corp. gets introduction of the nuclear bailout bill it sought, Crains Cleveland Business, By , 7 APR 17,  FirstEnergy Corp. got the legislation it apparently sought introduced to the Ohio Senate in the form of Senate Bill 128.

And the company probably got the reaction it expected from various consumer and industrial groups — mostly a chorus of boos.

The bill, which has been introduced by Republican Sens. John Eklund of Geauga County and Frank LaRose of Hudson, would give so-called zero emissions credits to FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants near Perry and Toledo.

If the plants are sold, however, the legislation would reduce the credits through a formula based on the sales price and the revenues it generates for FirstEnergy, unless the company sold the plants out of bankruptcy.

Of course, those credits won’t be spun from straw. They will result in an extra charge on the bills of FirstEnergy’s electricity customers. It would reportedly give the plants an extra $300 million per year in revenue — mostly to help them compete with wind- and natural gas-generated electricity — and cost consumers an extra 5% on their electric bills, or about $57 per year per household.

What’s at stake, the company insists, is nothing less than the future of Ohio’s Perry Nuclear Power Plant and Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, if not the future of Akron-based FirstEnergy itself. The plants are having difficulty competing with low-cost natural gas and subsidized wind energy that can encroach on nuclear’s turf.

Not surprising, the legislation was applauded by FirstEnergy, which has been lobbying for its introduction in Columbus for months……..Likewise, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, with members working at FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants, supported the legislation………

But from others, the response was negative.

“Senate Bill 128 is nothing more than another attempt by utilities to force customers to pay above-market prices for electricity … FirstEnergy should not be allowed to prop up its business on the backs of Ohio consumers. While manufacturers support nuclear power as part of an all-of-the-above energy portfolio, Senate Bill 128 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We will actively work to oppose this misguided bill,” wrote the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association on Thursday, April 6.

Then came angry retirees.

“Deregulation of the market in Ohio is working,” said AARP state director Barbara Sykes. “Ohioans have the ability to buy power from whoever they want, forcing competitive pricing. This legislation unfairly props up businesses, such as FirstEnergy, who have failed to remain competitive by passing the costs of doing business on to consumers. We are firmly opposed to this for all Ohioans, but especially for those age 50-plus who are living on fixed incomes.”

And, finally, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel in Columbus — which pegged the cost of the proposed bill at $57 per year for 2 million FirstEnergy customers — gave one of the sternest rebukes.

“What needs to stop is the electric utilities’ dependence, since 2000, on government subsidies — $14.7 billion to date — that have been charged to Ohio families and businesses,” wrote OCC public affairs coordinator Molly McGuire. “Under the legislature’s 1999 vision for benefits from power plant deregulation, Ohioans should not pay more than the market price of electricity on their electric bills.”

Such reactions might be an indication of how steep a climb FirstEnergy has ahead of it if it’s to get the legislation passed. So far, the legislation has no sponsor in the House, where some observers predict it will face obstacles, including from free-market Republicans.

April 8, 2017 - Posted by | politics, USA

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