New Ohio House Bill aims to subsidize state’s nuclear power plants
After a previous attempt stalled in the Ohio legislature, a new bill to help subsidize the state’s two nuclear power plants has been introduced in the state House.
FirstEnergy has been lobbying for a Zero Emission Nuclear Resource Program or “ZEN” for its nuclear power plants in North Perry and Oak Harbor, which are struggling to compete with cheaper natural gas. The Akron-based company has said it is looking to sell or shutter its nuclear plants as it seeks to exit the competitive power generation business.
The newly introduced House Bill 381 will likely be subject to much the same criticisms its predecessors faced. Opponents have argued ZENs force consumers to prop up aging, uneconomic plants. Under the new proposal, costs to customers have been lessened.
House Bill 381 sets the cost for residential customers at $2.50 and the lesser of a 5 percent increase or $3,500 a month for nonresidential (business and industrial) customers.
Under the previous proposal, both residential and nonresidential customers would have seen a 5 percent monthly increase on their bills. The length of the proposed ZEN program is shortened from 16 years to 12 years under the new bill.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Anthony DeVitis, R-Green. Among the co-sponsors is Rep. Ron Young, R-Leroy Township, whose district includes the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.
“I felt it was time to at least lend my support to the effort,” Young said.
Young said he is “definitely in favor” of maintaining nuclear power efforts in Ohio, “for many reasons.”
The Perry Nuclear Power Plant employs more than 700 people and is a major tax revenue source for Perry Schools, among other area entities.