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Environment & Energy

State Senator Who Works for Law Firm Representing FirstEnergy Says Nuclear Subsidies Are a Good Idea

photo of Perry nuclear power plant
JERRY SHARP
/
SHUTTERSTOCK

The utility that owns Ohio’s two nuclear power sites say it needs to charge its customers more in order save the struggling plants. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, the state senator who’s proposing a bill that would allow that to happen is accused of having a conflict of interest.

Sen. John Eklund of Chardon is an attorney with a firm that represents FirstEnergy, which owns Ohio’s nuclear power plants. Eklund’s bill would allow FirstEnergy to charge customers more to subsidize those plants. He notes the state’s ethics commission says there shouldn’t be any concerns about conflicts.

And Eklund says saving these nuclear power plants ensures that Ohio isn’t just relying on whatever energy source is cheapest at the time, because that "exposes the system to the weakness of that energy source and does not take advantage of the strengths of the other energy sources.”

Manufacturers and consumer groups have said this is just another request for a bailout from FirstEnergy, which already lost a fight to help its coal plants.