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Akron Pushes State, Feds to Save FirstEnergy's Nuclear Power Plants

Protesters' photo
FirstEnergy and its supporters say the plans would not be a bailout, but rather a way to keep a valuable resource in the nation's power grid

Akron City Hall is backing one of the city’s biggest employers in calling for a government alternative to FirstEnergy plans to close three nuclear power plants. 

A statement from Mayor Dan Horrigan followed the announcement that the Akron-based utility plans to shutter the David Besse and Perry nuclear power plants in Ohio and Beaver Valley plant in Pennsylvania. It also came right after FirstEnergy -- as expected -- declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy of its deregulated power-generating subsidiary, FirstEnergy Solutions.

The city sounds more confident about the bankruptcy. It says the process will give FirstEnergy Solutions the time it needs to strategically restructure. As for the plant closings, the city is joining the company in pressuring state and federal governments to find a solution “that will help protect this valuable source of reliable clean energy for Ohio customers.”

So far, lawmakers have balked at the company’s call for customers to be charged more to keep the plants running. FirstEnergy says they can’t compete against low-cost natural gas.

FirstEnergy has about 15,000 employees in all, many working at corporate headquarters in downtown Akron.

Here's the complete statement from Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan:

"In the City of Akron, we recognize First Energy as a key partner in both our economy and community, and offer our full support as they move forward with these unwelcome but necessary decisions.  We are confident that the Chapter 11 process will afford First Energy Solutions the opportunity to engage in a strategic financial restructuring and emerge as a stronger entity going forward, while continuing to provide reliable service to their customers throughout the process. 

While the potential deactivation of First Energy’s three Ohio nuclear plants will have a significant impact on their individual local communities, we know that the damaging ripple effects will be felt throughout the region.  We join the leadership of FES in calling on elected officials at the state and federal level to find a legislative solution that will help protect this valuable source of reliable clean energy for Ohio customers, and we remain committed to supporting FES as they continue their efforts to prevent the long-term closure of these plants.”

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.