Ot­tawa, Lake groups join to save nuke plants

Coun­ties say clos­ing the two sites would dev­as­tate econ­omy.

Dayton Daily News - - LOCAL & STATE - By Jim Provance

Fac­ing an eight­month COLUM­BUS — dead­line to find a way to save Ohio’s two strug­gling nu­clear power plants on Lake Erie’s shore or see them per­ma­nently de­com­mis­sioned, com­mu­nity lead­ers from Ot­tawa and Lake coun­ties have cre­ated a coali­tion in hopes of get­ting a re­prieve.

“The stakes are sim­ply too high not to,” Jamie Beier Grant, direc­tor of the Ot­tawa County Im­prove­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, said Wed­nes­day at the Ohio Statehouse.

The Ohio Clean En­ergy Jobs Al­liance — con­sist­ing of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of lo­cal govern­ment, schools, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment groups, skilled trade unions, and busi­nesses — hope to jump-start leg­isla­tive ef­forts to keep the lights on at Davis-Besse east of Toledo and the Perry Plant east of Cleve­land.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­knowl­edged the op­po­si­tion that faced prior at­tempts and did not pro­pose a spe­cific so­lu­tion this time. But it said that, what­ever that an­swer is, it must be a statewide re­sponse.

If the plants close, “there will be a pretty mas­sive re­ces­sion go­ing south from the lake to the core of Ohio,” said Lake County Com­mis­sioner Jerry Cirino.

The plants have been un­able to ef­fec­tively com­pete in this era of cheap and abun­dant nat­u­ral gas.

First En­ergy So­lu­tions, in the midst of bank­ruptcy pro­ceed­ings, has made pro­ce­dural moves to­ward de­com­mis­sion­ing the two plants but it won’t reach the point of no re­turn on the 40-yearold Davis-Besse un­til roughly June.

That’s when the power mar­ket­ing sub­sidiary of Akron-based FirstEn­ergy must choose be­tween mak­ing a long-term com­mit­ment to Davis-Besse by re­fu­el­ing the plant or pro­ceed­ing with a shut­down and the stor­age of ra­dioac­tive waste on site un­til it de­grades. That en­tire process could take some 60 years.

“I’ve been told by enough physi­cists and en­gi­neers that once you start shut­ting down a nu­clear power plant, there’s vir­tu­ally no turn­ing back,” Cirino said.

That would mean the nearly 700 peo­ple em­ployed at Davis-Besse, the largest em­ployer of Ot­tawa County, would lose their jobs — with the ex­cep­tion of those left be­hind for se­cu­rity and fuel-han­dling.

These groups tried un­suc­cess­fully last year to con­vince state law­mak­ers to pass a law that would guar­an­tee a mar­ket for power gen­er­ated by the plants de­spite the fact that it is more ex­pen­sive than nat­u­ral gas. The bill would have al­lowed FES to col­lect about $300 mil­lion a year from cus­tomers even if they shopped else­where for their power.

These moves were gen­er­ally op­posed by com­pet­ing elec­tric­ity sup­pli­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers who count on af­ford­able elec­tric­ity rates, en­vi­ron­men­tal groups that ar­gue that the plants’ time is com­ing to an end, con­sumer ad­vo­cates, and some law­mak­ers well be­yond Lake Erie who ques­tioned where their con­stituents might be asked to sub­si­dize the plants.


FirstEn­ergy, which is un­der­go­ing bank­ruptcy, is mov­ing to close the Davis-Besse nu­clear plant.

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