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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Opposition Mounts to Ohio's "Nuclear Bailout" Bill

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Monday, April 10, 2017   

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Opposition is mounting to a plan to charge Ohioans to bail out one company's aging nuclear power plants.

Senate Bill 128 in the Ohio Legislature would add a charge to people's electric bills to subsidize plants owned by FirstEnergy, a company that provides power to about 2 million residential consumers. FirstEnergy has said its nuclear plants are an important part of the clean energy picture in the state.

But Trey Addison, associate state director at AARP Ohio, said for customers, bills would increase on average almost $60 a year for up to 16 years - a real burden for people on fixed incomes.

"This is something that we continue to see. FirstEnergy has recouped billions of dollars from ratepayers in the state of Ohio, more so than any other utility,” Addison said. "So, it's just unacceptable again, now they're seeking a legislative solution. 'Bob and Betty Buckeye' have had enough."

Addison said there's no need for Ohioans to pay above-market rates for power, and that deregulation of the electric industry is working. A joint study of deregulation by Ohio State University and Cleveland State University found Ohioans saved nearly $12 billion between 2011 and 2015, and are projected to save another $12 billion through 2020.

Addison likens FirstEnergy's request to a homeowner wanting others in their neighborhood to pay for improvements so the homeowner could make more money in a real estate deal.

"It's unfortunate that you would go on the record and say, 'We're likely going to end up selling the plant anyway, so let's 'profit up' financially so we can get the highest dollar amount for it - on the back of the consumer,’” he said.

Instead, Addison said, FirstEnergy could sell its power to other buyers at a premium price. Another utility, Excelon, recently did that in Illinois - announcing it would sell power from its Byron nuclear plant to Michigan and other states, rather than seek a bailout.

Other states have decided to let their aging nuclear plants close without bailing them out.


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