Nuclear plant credits needed, committee told
A bill pending in the state legislature that aims to put two nuclear power plants in Ohio back on sound financial footing has drawn the support of the superintendent of the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District.
Guy Parmigian testified last week before the House of Representatives Public Utilities Committee that the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station plays a vital role in the district as a major employer, tax payer and corporate leader.
During the committee’s first hearing on House Bill 178, he expressed support for the measure, which would require electric distribution utilities to purchase what are called zero-emissions nuclear (ZEN) credits and recover the purchase costs through a rider imposed on retail electric service customers.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Anthony DeVitis, R- Green, O.
Parmigian informed the committee the B-C-S school board last month passed a resolution supporting nuclear power plants in the state, saying they are facing “unprecedented challenges related to competitive markets that don’t adequately compensate them for their unique contributions to our overall energy mix in Ohio.”
He said Davis-Besse contributes about 40 percent of the district’s annual tax revenues.
Charles Jones, FirstEnergy president and chief executive officer, said last year that FirstEnergy Solutions and Allegheny Energy Supply, the company’s subsidiaries that own the power plants, can’t operate profitably at current energy prices.
Parmigian noted the uncertainty over Davis-Besse’s future led the school board to remove a bond issue from the May 2 ballot. Board members concluded a devaluation of the plant would result in an increase in property taxes for homeowners and farmers if the bond issue had passed.
Matthew Szollosi, executive director of Affiliated Construction Trades Ohio, also testified in favor of the bill.
“Electrical generation creates and sustains thousands of good-paying jobs in the State of Ohio. ACT Ohio has adopted an ‘all of the above’ approach to generation, including coal, gas, wind, solar and, of course, nuclear power,” he said.
A companion bill has been introduced in the senate.
Aging nuclear plants are particularly feeling the squeeze of low prices for natural gas used at more modern power plants.