Ohio’s two nuclear plants, Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Ottawa County and Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Lake County, have been fixtures on the Lake Erie shoreline for many years, producing reliable, carbon-free electricity that lights up our cities and homes and powers our industries around the clock.
These plants pump more than electrons into the lifeblood of Ohio – they pump billions of dollars into our state and local economies and produce thousands of high-paying jobs. But today, their future is at risk – and not due to competition from other energy sources. Rather, the economic and environmental benefits and support nuclear plants provide the electric grid aren’t valued by federal energy market rules.
That’s why Senator Eklund sponsored this legislation and Senator Yuko strongly supports it to keep these economic powerhouses operating for years to come. Many of our colleagues in the Senate agree that Zero-Emissions Nuclear, or “ZEN,” legislation is vital to Ohio’s economic well-being. The bill has attracted a broad base of support from both sides of the aisle.
The fact is that the Perry and Davis-Besse are mostly “out-of-sight, out of mind” to most Ohioans. They are off the beaten path, quietly operating around the clock to help power up one of most energy-intensive industrial states in the country. They don’t attract the attention of the Cleveland Cavaliers –who’ve sought a taxpayer subsidy for a $140 million expansion of Quicken Loans Arena – or Ohio State football, which generates $68 million in annual revenues. If these teams were at risk of leaving, can you imagine Ohioans not banding together to keep them here? We can’t either, but if you look strictly at the numbers, keeping Davis-Besse and Perry operating in Ohio makes even more economic sense.
Together, the two plants contribute $510 million annually to the state gross domestic product and provide millions in vital tax dollars that fund strong schools, well-prepared first responders, and other critical community services. They also employ more than 4,300 Ohioans, both at the plants and at businesses that support the facilities, their workers and their families. And, they do it all while emitting ZERO carbon pollutants into our atmosphere.
Ohio is on the rise. It didn’t happen overnight, but we are rebounding from a tough recession and our future looks bright. But if we don’t step up and protect our most vital economic assets, “one-step forward, two-steps back” will remain a familiar theme in Ohio. And Davis-Besse and Perry will no longer be out-of-sight, out-of-mind if they permanently shut down. Thousands of jobs will be lost, communities and schools will suffer, the power grid will be put at risk and Ohio’s rich industrial legacy will suffer another humiliating blow.
As your representatives in Columbus, we refuse to sit by quietly as the state loses nearly 15 percent of its electricity production. While the Department of Energy recently urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve a proposed rule to preserve important electricity sources like nuclear power, federal solutions take time. We must act now to protect these economic powerhouses from temperamental energy markets that Ohio’s government currently has little control over.
Surrounding states have already taken similar action to save their own plants, and we must move quickly to ensure Ohio is not left behind. We encourage you to join the broad base of elected officials, community leaders, business organizations and engaged citizens from across the state who back the proposed ZEN legislation to support the continued operation of Ohio’s nuclear plants. Together, we can ensure a strong and secure economic future for all Ohioans.
John Eklund is a Republican member of the Ohio Senate for the 18th district serving parts of Lake and Geauga and all of Portage counties.
Kenny Yuko is the Minority Leader of the Ohio Senate for the 25th district serving parts of Cuyahoga and Lake counties.