As you may have heard, First Energy is looking for money to keep it’s nuclear plant near Cleveland and another in Toledo open. To do it, the company wants PUCO and the Ohio legislature to approve more than $300 million a year in new customer charges.
First Energy has said it would close or sell the plants if this or similar funding measures were not passed. So far, things aren’t going the company’s way.
Earlier this month, the special nuclear funding legislation, Senate Bill 128, was pronounced “stalled” in committee. State Sen. William Beagle, chairman of the utilities committee, said not all the opponents of the legislation have had a chance to appear before the committee. As such, said he has not even considered calling for a vote on the bill. House members seem less interested in their version, House Bill 178. If passed into law, it would raise even the cheapest Ohio electricity bills by $5/month —$60 a year.
Both houses have already adjourned for summer.
Whether interest develops during the summer recess will become evident when lawmakers reconvene in the fall. The legislation would create “zero emission credits,” or ZECs. These credits would be worth about $17 for every ton of carbon dioxide not put into the atmosphere. Customers would pay for the ZECs through increases on their monthly bills for up to 16 years.
First Energy’s Ohio plants are not unique cases. According to Bloomberg news, the one-time electric industry’s cash-cow is now wielding a tin cup. Of the 61 operational U.S. nuclear power plants, 34 are losing money to the collective tune of $2.9 billion per year.