Ottawa County’s top state legislators Sen. Theresa Gavarone and Rep. D.J. Swearingen and the Benton-Salem-Carroll School District issued statements this week in support of House Bill 6. Starting on Jan. 1, the law will provide more than $1 billion, or $150 million annually, to the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ottawa County and the Perry nuclear plant in Lake County as new fees are added to Ohioans’ electricity bills.
Both nuclear plants are owned by Energy Harbor, the former FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corporation. The company has been charged in an FBI affidavit of channeling $60 million in bribes to get the bailout approved.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, has threatened to sue to prevent the subsidies from going into effect. New Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp has taken the first step toward repealing House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout law that’s at the center of an ongoing federal corruption investigation.
Cupp, a Lima Republican, on Monday announced the creation of a new ”select committee” on Energy Policy and Oversight. He referred to it for review three HB 6-related bills, including House Bill 746, a Republican-backed proposal that would repeal the bill that was passed last year, and re-instate previous law. He said the new committee will begin holding hearings ”rather quickly.’’
In a joint statement, Sen. Theresa Gavarone of Bowling Green and Senate District 2 and Sen. John Eklund of Munson Township and Ohio’s Senate District 18, said that the two plants account for thousands of jobs, millions in funding for schools, emergency services and libraries, as well as 90% of the carbon-free energy produced in Ohio.
“The way of life for thousands of families would be decimated should any law be enacted that would repeal HB 6 without an adequate replacement,” they said.
Rep. D.J. Swearingen of Ohio House District 89, which includes Ottawa and Erie counties, said in a statement that his district “is home to many industries that support our state and local economy — and one of the most critical is the energy production through Davis-Besse. In light of recent events and amid calls to repeal HB 6, I wanted to describe the plant’s significance.
“Nuclear energy provides 90% of Ohio’s clean energy emissions,” he said. “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.”
If nuclear energy goes away, noted Swearingen, Ohio will be forced to buy more costly power from out-of-state generators. Ohio would lose in-state jobs and taxes, as well as energy efficiency.
At its board meeting last Thursday, the Benton-Carroll-Salem School Board district passed a resolution saying that “we detest any alleged illegal or unethical activity that may have occurred before, during or after the legislation, but strongly believe the energy policy outcomes of HB 6 were a tremendous benefit to all Ohioans.”
The board stated the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station operated by Energy Harbor “is a key partner in the education of our students. Continued operations of Davis-Besse are essential to our nation and state for a variety of reasons, including thousands and direct and indirect jobs, maintaining a diverse energy grid and maintaining energy independence.”