TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Adding a new charge on every electricity bill in Ohio would provide a financial rescue to the state’s two struggling nuclear plants, but would come at the expense of wind and solar energy projects.
Republican members of an Ohio House committee on Thursday approved the proposal that would generate nearly $200 million each year mostly for the nuclear plants, which are in danger of closing without help from the state.
The plan revised over the past few days after weeks of debate would no longer allow renewable energy projects to seek the same type of clean air incentives being offered to the nuclear plants.
It also would eliminate mandates that promote the use of wind and solar power.
Democrats on the House Energy and Resources Committee voted against the plan, which will now go the Ohio House for a vote.
The legislation would put a $1 monthly charge on all residential electricity bills starting in 2021 while businesses and industrial users would pay more — anywhere from $15 to $2,500 per month.
Republicans who control the committee also added this week a provision that would allow the owners of two-coal fired power plants to charge customers to fund operations of the plants.
Democrats criticized the legislation, which backers touted as a “clean energy” plan, calling it nothing more than a bailout for the nuclear and coal industry.
FirstEnergy Solutions, which operates the Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo and the Perry plant near Cleveland, has said both plants are slated to close by 2021 unless the government steps in and reduces the cost of operating them.
The plants — like many of the nation’s aging nuclear reactors — are expensive to operate and maintain and struggle to compete with cheaper natural gas plants and renewable energy.
Backers of the plants say closing them would make Ohio too dependent on natural gas and take away a reliable source of energy. It also would mean the loss of at least 1,500 jobs and millions in tax money for schools and local governments.