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An Ohio School Board Is Working to Save Nuclear Plants

Ohio faces a decision soon about its two nuclear reactors, Davis-Besse and Perry, and on Wednesday, neighbors of one of those plants issued a cry for help.

The reactors’ problem is that the price of electricity they sell on the high-voltage grid is depressed, mostly because of a surplus of natural gas. And the reactors do not get any revenue for the other benefits they provide. Some of those benefits are regional – emissions-free electricity, reliability with months of fuel on-site, and diversity in case of problems or price spikes with gas or coal, state and federal payroll taxes, and national economic stimulus as the plants buy fuel, supplies and services. Some of the benefits are highly localized, including employment and property taxes.

One locality is already feeling the pinch: Oak Harbor on Lake Erie, home to Davis-Besse. The town has a middle school in a building that is 106 years old, and an elementary school from the 1950s, and on May 2 was scheduled to have a referendum on issuing bonds to replace both in a modern building. Parts of the old buildings look stately but the concrete is crumbling, and they do not meet modern needs for security, access or 21st century instructional methods. But the school board, seeing the uncertainty, canceled the vote.

Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station employs 700 people full time, with an average annual pay of $86,000 before benefits. Keeping it in production will generate nearly $30 billion in economic output to the state.

Next week the legislature in Columbus is scheduled to begin hearings on a bill that would correct some of the market flaws, as New York and Illinois have done in the recent past, and as New Jersey and Connecticut are now considering.

On Wednesday night, the school board for the area including Oak Harbor passed this resolution:

Resolution of the Board of Education of the Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District

WHEREAS, nuclear power plants including the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio, are facing unprecedented challenges related to competitive markets that don’t adequately compensate them for their unique contributions to our overall energy mix in Ohio; and,

WHEREAS, Davis-Besse employs more than 700 workers who earn high-paying wages, who in-turn support our local economy in many ways; and,

WHEREAS, Our local legislators and elected officials including Representative Steve Arndt and Senator Randy Gardner have recognized the importance of Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station and have championed the workers and families of the plant; and

WHEREAS, Davis-Besse is the largest employer and taxpayer in Ottawa County; and,

WHEREAS, the electricity produced by nuclear power helps to keep Ohio energy independent and attractive to new industry; and,

WHEREAS, Davis-Besse together with its sister plant in Ohio (Perry Nuclear Power Plant) provide 11% of the electricity produced in this state, and these two nuclear power plants together produce approximately 90% of Ohio’s carbon free electricity;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District Board of Education supports the work of Ohio legislators as they work on plans to help preserve our state’s baseload nuclear plants known as the Zero Emission Nuclear Resource Program (ZEN).

Resolved this 19th day of April, 2017 at Oak Harbor, Ottawa County, Ohio

The above is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.


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