Ohio legislature close to revoking nuclear power subsidy

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The Davis-Beese nuclear power station cooling tower and security post is seen near Oak Harbor, Ohio February 11, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

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NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - Ohio's Senate amended and unanimously passed a House bill that would repeal nuclear subsidies for Energy Harbor Corp's Davis-Besse and Perry reactors in the state.

House Bill 128 (HB128), which the Senate passed on Wednesday, would confirm what state courts have already done in halting collection of the subsidies under House Bill 6 (HB6).

Analysts at ClearView Energy Partners said the Ohio House could approve the slightly amended Senate version of HB128 this week and send it to Governor Mike DeWine, who is expected to sign the legislation.

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In 2019, the legislature passed HB6 to keep the money losing nuclear plants in service to preserve jobs, tax revenues and because the reactors generate lots of energy without producing carbon dioxide emissions.

But HB6, which would pay Energy Harbor about $1 billion over six years, became tainted after it was revealed that it passed the legislature through alleged acts of bribery.

HB6 passed when Energy Harbor was still known as FirstEnergy Solutions, a bankrupt unit of FirstEnergy Corp (FE.N), which threatened to close the reactors unless the state provided financial support.

Energy Harbor has not opposed the legislative efforts to end the nuclear subsidies because the company has said it has a favorable outlook of receiving some form of federal clean energy support, according to analysts at Height Capital Markets.

Officials at Energy Harbor were not immediately available for comment.

Those affected by the alleged bribery scandal so far include Larry Householder, the former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, who was arrested by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in July 2020; Charles (Chuck) Jones, CEO of FirstEnergy, who was fired by the company in October 2020; and Samuel Randazzo, who resigned as chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in November 2020 after the FBI searched his home.

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Reporting by Scott DiSavino

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