COLUMBUS - A new group that wants to save the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants and promote nuclear energy will kick off its efforts Wednesday with a news conference in the Statehouse.
The Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance is a coalition of Ohio community leaders and organizations committed to preserving the jobs and economic benefits, carbon-free energy and electricity grid reliability that nuclear plants provide to the state, according to a news release from the group.
Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools Superintendent Guy Parmigian will be one of the speakers for the group Wednesday.
Closure 'would be catastrophic'
Parmigian said he will speak about the value of the Davis-Besse facility to the BCS school district and the tax revenues the plant has produced over the past four decades.
FirstEnergy Solutions, owner and operator of the Davis-Besse plant, announced plans to deactivate the facility in 2020 and declared bankruptcy in the span of a week in late March and early April.
The plant employs about 700 people, making it the largest employer in Ottawa County.
The Perry plant similarly employs around 700 people and is scheduled for deactivation in 2021.
Parmigian said Davis-Besse employees have consistently contributed to the school district as mentors to students and through professional development with teachers.
The superintendent said a closure of the Davis-Besse plant would impact not only Ottawa County and Oak Harbor, but also surrounding counties and cities.
"A closure of that plant would be catastrophic for the region," Parmigian said.
"Municipalities become very reliant on that revenue," Perry Superintendent Jack Thompson told WKYC Channel 3 last spring. "That has certainly been the case in Perry. Having the power plant has certainly been a strong resource for us for years, And it's gonna be devastating to see them go."
Tax revenue from the plant accounts for 25% of the district's revenue, allowing Perry to build a beautiful campus while not having to ask voters to pass a tax levy since 1976.
What is the value of nuclear power?
Parmigian said Wednesday's news conference was intended to reach residents in areas of Ohio without nuclear plants and show them the benefits of the facilities.
Jamie Beier Grant, executive director of the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation, is also slated to speak Wednesday.
She said nuclear power is one of the most reliable and resilient forms of electricity and these attributes should not be ignored in the overall energy portfolio mix of Ohio and throughout the footprint of PJM Interconnection, the regional power grid manager.
Beier Grant said she has concerns on the overall impact that closing Ohio’s nuclear facilities would have on energy pricing and reliability of power.
The anticipated impact locally
In business retention and attraction efforts, having reliable and affordable power is critical to economic competitiveness, she said.
Beier Grant said Ohio has one of the nation’s largest supplier bases that serves the nuclear energy industry. She added that the closure of Ohio’s nuclear facilities will most certainly have a negative impact on that supplier base in Ohio.
"Davis-Besse is a valuable component to Ottawa County’s economic landscape. The employees that work at the facility are our family, friends and neighbors. They matter to us all. Preserving these jobs and tax base in our community is so important," Beier Grant said.
Beier Grant said there had been recent decisions by courts in Illinois and New York that have upheld similar forms of zero emissions legislation to that which has been discussed in Ohio.
She said there was an ongoing dialogue with state and federal officials on preserving the two nuclear plants. Beier Grant said she had no new information on a legislative remedy in Ohio to keep the plants open.