FirstEnergy announces plan to deactivate Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in 2020

FirstEnergy announces plan to deactivate Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in 2020
(Source: WTOL)

OTTAWA COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - WTOL 11 reported earlier this week that First Energy announced plans to deactivate the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in 2020.

"Oh, it would be devastating to the whole region! I mean, this is not just an Ottawa County issue, this is a whole region issue," said Ottawa County commissioner Jim Sass.

Though the Ottawa County commissioners are not surprised at First Energy's announcement late Wednesday night, they are still disappointed.

The future of the power plant is now in the hands of our elected officials.

"This makes sense from their point of view, this is one of the first steps that they are going through. And it makes it obvious that we need to find some type of solution, whether it's through legislation or through a buyer," said Mark Coppeler, Ottawa County Commissioner

Last October, the Ohio department of Taxation approved the devaluation of the Davis-Besse plant. Now, First Energy has verbally informed the nuclear Regulatory Commission of their intentions to deactivate the plant.

But that still doesn't mean the plant is confirmed to close, as the deactivation won't be until 2020.

Giving local and state legislatures time to either create a proposed Zero-Emissions Nuclear Resource program to lighten the financial stress of running the plant, or find a potential buyer.

"It's going to be at least two years down the road, so there is time. Our intent is, quite frankly, if First Energy doesn't continue to run the plant, that we can find a buyer for it and keep it running. We've got to believe that there's options plant, absolutely," said Sass.

Though natural gas has overtaken nuclear as a more efficient clean energy option, these Ottawa County commissioners believe nuclear can still be an option for the region.

"We firmly believe that nuclear has a place in that portfolio. And we will continue to advocate for that," said Mark Stahl, Ottawa County Commissioner.

The plant employs over 1,000 employees and many local contractors, but only 40 percent live in Ottawa County.

So the potential closure of the plant would impact the entire region, as millions of tax dollars for Ottawa and surrounding counties could be going away.

The Ottawa County department of Jobs and Family services has been working since August on multiple plans in the event the plant is closed.

The first to ensure employees can be rehired if the plant is purchased, or to receive rapid response funding from the state to train those employees the assist them in moving to a new company.

"The types of positions that are held there at the facility are very marketable. They're skill trades, attention to detail, reliability. They're going to make them very marketable to any business in our community. So, it's again taking a look at what they have and what we can do to keep those folks in our community," said Stephanie Kowal, director of Ottawa County Job &Family Services.

If the plant is ultimately deactivated, Federal regulations say FirstEnergy would have up to 60 years to decommission the nuclear plant.

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