By Rep. D.J. Swearingen, 89th Ohio House District
The 89th Ohio House District includes both Erie and Ottawa Counties, and is home to many industries that support our state’s and local economy. One of the most critical is the energy production through Davis-Besse. In light of recent events and amid the calls to repeal House Bill 6, I wanted to describe the plant’s significance.
To start, nuclear energy provides 90% of Ohio’s clean energy emissions in the State. If nuclear energy goes away, then so does essentially all of Ohio’s carbon-free emissions. Nuclear energy also provides reliable baseload power to the PJM energy grid. When other sources of energy buckle under the strain of variable weather conditions, nuclear energy remains in constant supply. One need not look further than other states like California and their rolling blackouts to see the issues that come with retiring base load generating plants and replacing them with erratic energy sources.
Nuclear energy also provides 20% of the energy used in Ohio. If it goes away, Ohio will be forced to buy more costly power from out-of-state generators. We lose in-state jobs and taxes as well as energy efficiency since we will have to transmit the power we use from longer distances.
The Davis-Besse site is also a massive contributor to our local and state economy. Its economic impact in Ohio rises above $473 million, and locally, it is Ottawa County’s largest taxpayer that contributes to the region. This is crucial as the plant’s approximately $22 million in tax revenues result in supporting local schools, police and fire departments, and other crucial public services.
Davis-Besse also continues to be a driver of jobs. The plant provides around 700 family-sustaining jobs and has an annual payroll of approximately $65 million. Through the multiplier effect, Ottawa County benefits from the plant through an additional 900 jobs and nearly $30 million in payroll at other businesses throughout the area. Contractors visiting, as well as local union members and their families, also leave a lasting impression as they create an additional and significant economic impact.
Some may argue that the free market should decide which businesses succeed and fail. I understand and appreciate those arguments. However, the reality is that Davis-Besse has not been operating in a free market in a long time. For many years, other energy providers such as wind and solar have received taxpayer subsidies while providers like Davis-Besse have not received any subsidies. That is not a free and fair market. This is an issue to address with regards to our energy grid going forward.
As I acknowledged above, Davis-Besse and nuclear energy are essential not only for the entire state, but as an industry that provides so much right here within Ottawa County and the surrounding area. For these reasons, any efforts to repeal House Bill 6 must also contain an immediate replacement bill that prioritizes Davis Besse and nuclear energy.