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Environment & Energy

Saving Nuclear Plants Is 'Insurance Policy' According to FirstEnergy CEO

A photo of FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones at the John S. Knight Center where FirstEnergy held its annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The future of Ohio’s two nuclear plants remains up in the air as a bailout package, House Bill 6, works its way through the state legislature. The package would throw a lifeline to bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions. Its former parent company, FirstEnergy hosted shareholders at its annual meeting in Akron Tuesday. Protesters were there too.  

FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones said 2018 was a good year for the utility. “We completed many of the difficult steps needed to successfully complete our transition into a premier, high performance regulated utility company with long-term sustainable shareholder growth.”

FirstEnergy’s bright future comes at the expense of its soon-to-be former subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions, which is in the final stages of chapter 11 bankruptcy.

That company is currently trying to convince lawmakers to add a fee to customer bills that would provide a $150 million dollar subsidy to its two nuclear plants.

Jones said Ohio needs nuclear power despite the current abundance of natural gas...

“That money to keep these nuclear plants running is what I call an insurance policy against higher prices down the road.”

Members of Ohio Citizen Action gather outside FirstEnergy's Akron headquarters. The group also protested outside the annual shaleholders meeting calling for lawmakers to reject a bill to subsidize Ohio's nuclear industry.

Around 30 members of Ohio Citizen Action gathered at the shareholders meeting in Akron to protest against the bailout. Executive Director Rachel Belz said the plants have received around $11 billion in subsidies over two decades. “So we’ve paid for these and we feel that enough is enough right now.”

An Ohio House Committee is expected to vote soon on the bill.