Possible Davis-Besse shutdown could have impact on local school and region

Possible Davis-Besse shutdown could have impact on local school and region

OTTAWA COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - In December, First Energy announced it would look into selling or closing the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant. First Energy has said it is not cost effective to operate the plant, citing too many nuclear energy regulations.

With natural gas becoming a more efficient source for generation, county and state officials are working to change those regulations.

"Right now, natural gas is just very cheap, and it's very difficult to compete with the natural gas generating facilities," said Ottawa County Commissioner Jim Sass.

The Davis-Besse plant employs more than 1,000 employees and many local contractors. The loss of those jobs would impact the entire region, as only 40 percent of those employees live in Ottawa County.

"Well, obviously their lifestyle has adjusted to a certain income level, and if that's not there, it could create some issues and problems," said Sass.

In nearby Oak Harbor, the village would lose about $50,000 to $60,000 a year in income and sales tax. But they're more worried about a reliable source of energy for the community.

"Our biggest concern is the loss of consistent, reliable, non-imported power," said Oak Harbor Village Administrator Randy Genzman. "That local generation is a big part of the power portfolio for both northwest Ohio as well as the state of Ohio as a whole."

Forty percent of Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District's funding comes from Davis-Besse tax dollars.

With the plant's future uncertain, the school district's ability to plan ahead for their budget is left in the dark.

B-C-S Schools has 1,500 enrolled students and 220 staff.

The district's primary partner, Davis-Besse, not only supports with funding but provides multiple programs for students and teachers as well.

"The loss of Davis-Besse would be catastrophic," said B-C-S Schools Superintendent Guy Parmigian. "And we hope that the state would recognize that and help us out if the worst case happened."

School Treasurer Cajon Keeton says the district has been fiscally responsible for years and would not have to make drastic decisions immediately because of a solid rainy day fund.

But with a $653,000 decrease in state funding in this year's proposed state budget, the district is already preparing for the possibility of also losing out on the Davis-Besse tax dollars.

"That, and in addition to the state cuts, puts us in a rough spot. And we're going to do out best to lobby the state and do some fiscally sound things here within our school district so that we'd have the least amount of impact to our local tax payers," said Keeton.

The uncertainty has already impacted decisions here, as the board decided to end a May ballot campaign for a new school building bond issue.

"Because of the uncertainty, and because of the fact that we really couldn't give voters a definitive answer as to what it would cost them," said Parmigian.

First Energy said it would be a year before it finalizes a decision on the fate of Davis-Besse.

Follow WTOL:  

Download our app here

Copyright 2017 WTOL. All rights reserved.