© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Without Rate Increases, FirstEnergy Nuclear Plants Will Start Closing In 2020

FirstEnergy Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
Ron Schwane
FirstEnergy Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

The owner of Ohio’s nuclear plants has taken the next step in their plans to shut down those facilities as part of its bankruptcy filing. FirstEnergy says there’s still time to reverse course.

FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy which manages the power generation, has sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission saying that they plan to start shutting down their plants by May 2020.

The company says it can no longer operate without help.

FirstEnergy has been pushing state lawmakers to allow for rate increases on electric bills. Opponents say that would be a bailout for a utility that made bad investments.

FirstEnergy is also requesting the Department of Energy to intervene using the Federal Power Act. The utility argues that this is necessary for fuel security and diversity.

This week, state utility regulators also rejected legal arguments from FirstEnergy and three other electric utilities seeking to avoid returning proceeds from the federal tax cut to customers through rate reductions.  

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's unanimous decision Wednesday means American Electric Power, Dayton Power & Light, Duke Energy and FirstEnergy must continue to set aside all money from the tax cut until details about how rates will be lowered.

President Donald Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut package in December that reduced corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 21 percent.

PUCO Chairman Asim Haque said the question has always been how the utilities' tax savings would benefit electric consumers.

The utilities can appeal the commission's decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.