Politics

FirstEnergy Praises Signing of H.B. 6 Into Law

AKRON, Ohio — In a statement Wednesday, FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. praised the Ohio legislature’s passage of House Bill 6 as “a monumental step” in preventing the closure of the company’s two nuclear power plants in Ohio.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill into law that would subsidize the Davis-Besse plant near Toledo and the Perry nuclear plant along Lake Erie. The law applies monthly surcharges of $2.50 for residential energy customers, $20 for commercial customers and $250 for customers classified as industrial, and creates the Ohio Clean Air Quality Development Authority, which would provide during the first year “clean air credits” under the Ohio Clean Air program to power plants, such as nuclear power plants, that produce zero carbon emissions.

In its release, FirstEnergy stated the law will preserve 4,300 “highly-skilled jobs and an important economic engine for the state economy.”

“We are very pleased that Governor Mike DeWine signed HB6 following its successful bi-partisan passage in the General Assembly,” said John W. Judge, CEO of FirstEnergy Solutions. “We’re also thankful for the support and commitment by Speaker Householder and Senate President Obhof who understood the importance of protecting 90% of the state’s zero-emissions electricity, substantial employment and the need to provide affordable rates from a diverse portfolio of generation sources for Ohioans.

The law “preserves the state’s nuclear assets, reduces the customers’ electric bills and provides rigorous oversight to protect customers if market conditions change,” Judge stated.

“I also want to acknowledge and express our gratitude to our dedicated employees for their passionate advocacy which included contacting their state representatives to support HB6. At the same time, they remained focused and diligent in their jobs,” Judge continued.

The bill passed by a 51-38 vote in the Ohio House of Representatives. On July 17, it was approved by a 19-12 vote in the Ohio Senate. State Sens. Sean O’Brien and Michael Rulli, and state Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan, Michael O’Brien, and Gil Blair all voted against the legislation. State Rep. Don Manning, R-59 New Middletown, voted in favor of it.

After the bill was signed into law, Bill Siderewicz, president of Boston-based Clean Energy Future, announced a referendum committee had been formed to overturn the legislation, which critics argue is a bailout for FirstEnergy Solutions.

“The voters hate this blatant ‘pay to play’ scheme” to the tune of up to $400 million per year, Siderewicz said in an email responding to a request for comment Tuesday. Clean Energy Future developed the natural gas-fueled Lordstown Energy Center that opened last year and has plans to build a second such plant next to it.

Siderewicz claimed the referendum committee will have enough signatures to “hold [H.B. 6] in a coma until permanently killing it” in the November 2020 election.

In March 2018, FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., announced it would deactivate its Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants as well as the Beaver Valley Power Station in Pennsylvania over the next three years. Davis-Besse was scheduled to close in 2020, followed by the Beaver Valley and Perry plants in 2021.

At the start of its restructuring per its filing for bankruptcy, the company said the deactivation and decommission of the plants would occur “without the certainty of critical legislative support. With H.B. 6 signed into law, the company will begin the process to rescind the deactivation orders for the Ohio-based plants and “immediately resume preparation for the mandatory Davis-Besse refueling outage in the spring,” the release stated.

The bankruptcy case is proceeding in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

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Pictured: Davis-Besse plant. SOURCE: FirstEnergy Solutions.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.