July 23, 2019 / 2:47 PM / a month ago

Ohio House expected to pass bill to save nuclear power plants

    July 23 (Reuters) - Ohio's Republican-controlled House of
Representatives will likely pass a bill on Tuesday to create
subsidies to avoid the early shutdown of the state's two nuclear
power reactors, according to analysts and those watching the
legislation.
    The two reactors - Davis-Besse and Perry - are owned by
FirstEnergy Solutions, which has said it would shut the
money-losing plants in 2020 and 2021 unless the state provides
some financial assistance.
    FirstEnergy Solutions is a bankrupt unit of Ohio power
company FirstEnergy Corp       . FirstEnergy Solutions said
shutting the reactors could result in the loss of 4,300 jobs.
    Analysts said the Ohio Senate's version of the bill, known
as House Bill 6 (HB6), would likely pass the House before going
to Republican Governor Mike DeWine, who has expressed his
support for the legislation. The House passed its version of the
bill in May.             
    "We anticipate the House will pass the Senate version of the
bill today," analysts at Height Capital Markets said on Tuesday,
noting that Republican House Speaker Larry Householder "would
not have a called a session for today unless he had the
necessary votes, in our view."
    The bill comes nearly a month after FirstEnergy Solutions'
original June 30 deadline to purchase fuel for the spring 2020
refueling of the Davis-Besse plant.
    Officials at FirstEnergy Solutions were not immediately
available for comment, but in the past have said the company
would work with the state to avoid the Davis-Besse closure if
the legislature passed the bill by July 17.             
    Although the Senate, also controlled by Republicans, passed
the bill on that date, the House did not take up the legislation
because there were not enough votes to pass it at that time.
    The Senate version of the bill would provide an overall
reduction in consumer power rates by weakening the state's
renewable and energy efficiency goals even though FirstEnergy
Solutions would receive an estimated $150 million a year during
the 2021-2027 period to keep its reactors in service.
    Analysts said the bill would also provide about $60 million
a year through 2030 to keep a couple of Ohio Valley Electric
Corp's (OVEC) coal plants in service.             
    Several environmental groups opposed the nuclear bailout
because it would subsidize coal plants and weaken the state's
renewable and energy efficiency goals.
    The natural gas industry opposed the bill in part because
gas-fired power plants would make more money by running more
often after the coal and nuclear plants shut.

    
 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino
Editing by Paul Simao)
  
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