House votes on Ohio clean air legislation

29 May 2019

This story has been updated with details of the vote by the full House.

Draft legislation that would recognise the clean air attributes of Ohio's nuclear power plants has been passed by the state's House and will now go to forward to the Senate.

The Perry nuclear power plant in Ohio (Image: NRC/FirstEnergy)

HB 6 - the Ohio Clean Air Program - was introduced into the state's legislature in April, with the aim of providing incentives to build and maintain zero and reduced carbon emissions generation facilities in the state while lowering customers' electric utility bills. The House on 29 May voted to pass the bill by 53 votes to 43. This followed a 23 May vote in favour of the proposed legislation by the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy Generation.

The proposed legislation would, amongst other things, provide credit payments to "clean air resources" for their electricity generation. Under the version of HB 6 passed by the House, these are defined as nuclear and solar generation facilities that meet certain criteria. The bill also provides support for the continued operation of coal-fired plants operated by the Ohio Valley Electrical Corporation, which it identifies as a "national security generation resource".

The legislation would support the continued operation of Ohio's two nuclear power plants, Davis-Besse and Perry. The plants' owner, FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), has already notified regional transmission organisation PJM Interconnection of its intention to deactivate both those plants by mid-2021 and the two-unit Beaver Valley plant in Pennsylvania later that year in the absence of legislative policy solutions to keep them operating. The units are operated by FES subsidiary FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC).

FES said the bill provides an “effective legislative solution” to keep its nuclear power plants “open for many years to come". The company will continue to engage in a "constructive dialogue" with legislators until the Senate vote. It also praised the commitment of the bill's sponsors, Representatives Jamie Callender and Shane Wilkin, and their efforts to achieve bipartisan support for the bill.

FES is the competitive subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corporation, which in November 2016 announced its intention to withdraw from the competitive electricity market. FES, together with its subsidiaries and FENOC, in March 2018 filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with US courts to facilitate a financial restructuring.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News