June 28, 2019 / 7:40 PM / 18 days ago

Ohio may pass bill to save state's nuclear power plants over the weekend

    June 28 (Reuters) - A committee in the Ohio Senate could
vote on a nuclear bailout bill this weekend that would enable
the full state legislature to pass legislation over the weekend
to prevent the state's two power reactors from early retirement,
sources familiar with the bill said on Friday.
    FirstEnergy Solutions, the bankrupt unit of Ohio energy
company FirstEnergy Corp       , has said it would shut the
money-losing reactors in 2020 and 2021 if the state did not
adopt a plan to provide some money for the plants by June 30.
    Officials at FirstEnergy Solutions and several legislative
offices were not immediately available for comment.
    The House and Senate have sessions available to vote on the
bill if needed on Saturday and Sunday, sources said.
    "We expect the legislature will move quickly to get multiple
votes on the bill ahead of (FirstEnergy Solutions') June 30
deadline," analysts at Height Capital Markets in Washington,
D.C., said in a report on Thursday.
    The Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee
adopted amendments on House Bill 6 (HB 6) earlier this week and
may add more amendments before the vote on Saturday, sources
said. 
    HB 6 passed the Ohio House in May.             
    Analysts at Height Capital Markets said the Senate
amendments earlier this week would provide the two reactors on
Lake Erie - Davis Besse and Perry - with credits similar to the
House bill.
    Those credits could provide FirstEnergy Solutions with about
$150 million a year from 2020 to 2026, according to local
papers.
    The Senate amendments earlier this week - like the House
version of the bill - would also keep subsidies for a couple of
coal plants owned by Ohio Valley Electric Corp (OVEC). OVEC is
owned by several utilities, including units of American Electric
Power Co Inc         and Duke Energy Corp        .
    Cheap and ample gas from shale fields like the Marcellus and
Utica in Ohio has depressed electricity prices across the
country over the past several years, making it uneconomical for
generators to keep operating some nuclear and coal-fired power
plants.                          
    Despite the subsidies for the nuclear and coal plants,
consumers would see an overall reduction in their electricity
bills because the Senate amendments, like the House version of
the bill, would reduce costs by weakening the state's renewable
and energy efficiency standards.
    FirstEnergy Solutions has warned that retiring the reactors
could result in the loss of 4,300 jobs.             

    
 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino, editing by G Crosse)
  
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