Perry superintendent says closure of nuclear power plant would be ‘catastrophic’ at House committee hearing
Perry Schools Superintendent Jack Thompson spoke out in support of the proposed subsidies for Ohio nuclear power plants at a House Public Utilities Committee hearing.
Bills going through both the Ohio Senate and House are proposing the creation of a “Zero Emission Nuclear Resource Program,” or ZEN, for the state’s two nuclear power plants, both owned by Akron-based FirstEnergy. The company has stated it is looking to sell or shutter its two plants by mid-2018 as it seeks to exit the competitive power generation business.
The ZEN is projected to generate about $300 million for the plants, which includes the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in North Perry.
Those additional funds would be raised by ratepayers, with residential customers’ bills increasing by up to $5 a month. Businesses would pay more. The ZEN program would last at least four years, working on two-year periods for up to 16 years (eight program periods).
During the May 9 hearing, Thompson urged committee members to support the ZEN legislation.
“Uncertainty around (the plant’s) future causes my district great concern as we plan for the future of the students and families who will pass through the halls of this school,” Thompson said in his testimony.
The plant contributed nearly $14 million in local and state taxes last year and funds 85 percent of the school district’s annual budget, Thompson said. He added that the plant employs roughly 700 people, many of them parents of students in the district.
Thompson said they’ve been proud to partner with the plant and its employees over the years on special projects that “enrich the educational experience of our students.”
He said the closing of the plant would have a “catastrophic effect” on his district.