Report: GOP readies bill for a $300M nuclear bailout

Some Ohio political observers believe a legislative bailout of bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions’ nuclear power plants — a bailout all Ohioans will have to pay — is looking increasingly likely.

Talk of legislation to subsidize the Northern Ohio plants has been persistent in recent weeks.

“The answer is: It will be more likely than not,” Ohio energy consultant Matt Brakey told the Dayton Daily News when asked about the likelihood of such a bill. “Legislation will pass that includes some financial support for these nuclear units designed to keep them open beyond their current planned retirements.”

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The most likely version of that legislation will have all Ohioans paying for that bailout, he also believes.

“It will include a charge that will be applied across the state, as opposed to being more limited to traditional FirstEnergy Ohio’s footprint,” said Brakey, who is president of Chagrin Falls, Ohio-based Brakey Energy.

The two plants — the Davis-Besse and Perry plants — are both located in Northern Ohio, on Lake Erie.

Environmental group Sierra Club responded Friday to a new report of possible legislation.

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“This bill is a farce,” Neil Waggoner, campaign representative for the Sierra Club said in a statement. “Not only would it force Ohioans to pay more each month on their electric bills to bail out old nuclear plants that are losing money now and will only continue to lose money in the future, it would also effectively kill current programs that are driving money-saving energy efficiency investments and clean energy development.”

The web site first reported leaked details of “legislation to subsidize two FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear power plants.”

“Republican majority leaders have been circulating a proposal that would add up to $300 million annually to electric bills across the state,” that story said.

Brakey said the primary rationale for the legislation will be jobs-related. The plants directly employ some 1,400 people, with more than 3,600 full-time, in-state jobs tied to the plants, according FirstEnergy.

FirstEnergy Solutions and subsidiary FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. announced the plant closures — planned next year and in 2021 — about a year ago. Days later, the companies entered Chapter 11 protection and moved to separate away from its parent, FirstEnergy.

A message seeking comment was left Friday for a spokeswoman for Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and the Ohio Republican party.

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