Leaders from Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council affiliated Local Unions urged the state Senate to support House Bill 6, legislation designed to save the state’s two nuclear power plants.
During a June 18 rally in Cleveland, Laborers’ Local 310 Business Manager Terry Joyce, IBEW Local 673 Business Manager Dave Phillips and Teamsters Local 416 President Nick “Sonny” Nardi all discussed the need to save the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants.
H.B. 6 is designed to reduce utility rates for residential and business customers by millions of dollars each year, while also providing needed subsidies to ensure Perry and Davis-Besse remain operational.
On May 29, a bipartisan group of lawmakers passed H.B. 6 out of the House. It is now up for debate in the State Senate. Lawmakers are being encouraged to pass the legislation by the end of June, when FirstEnergy must decide whether to purchase more fuel for the plants or shut them down.
“The potential closure of the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants represents a worst-case scenario for the thousands of workers who depend on these plants to provide for themselves and for their families,” Joyce said. “People will lose their jobs.”
Joyce added that both plants combine to provide about 4,300 jobs and contribute roughly $510 million to Ohio’s annual Gross Domestic Product. Furthermore, they spend about $45 million on vendors and suppliers. If the plants close, those vendors and suppliers will suffer.
And beyond the vendors and suppliers, secondary businesses, including area restaurants and retail establishments also would be affected, potentially leading to additional closures and layoffs, Joyce said.
The Perry Nuclear Power Plant is located in Lake County, within the IBEW Local 673 jurisdiction.
Phillips echoed the comments made by Joyce, stating the power plants provide thousands of jobs and play a vital role in the local communities.
“These jobs are a critical component of our communities and local economies, and for all of our sakes, they deserve to be protected,” he said.
According to Phillips, the members of his Local work, on average, about 50,000 hours each year at Perry, which accounts for about 1/6 of the total annual hours worked by his members.
“If House Bill 6 does not pass by the end of the month, Perry Nuclear Power Plant will close,” Phillips said. “The jobs at stake are highly skilled, family sustaining and supporting life-long jobs. These are Ohio jobs. Closure of Perry would be devastating not only to our members, but to the entire community.”
Nardi pointed out the plants also generate a great deal of tax revenue – about $30 million in state and local taxes, which fund schools, safety forces and municipal services. If H.B. 6 fails, he believes taxes will be raised to replace this vital and much needed income.
He also voiced concern about the ability to generate power within Ohio, should the nuclear plants close.
“We need all sources of energy,” said Nardi. “We cannot be just dependent on one source.”
If the plants close, vital competition will be lost and the remaining energy producers will have the ability to increase rates, especially as the future need for electricity will likely increase, Nardi said.
“If Ohio stops producing emissions-free power from these nuclear stations, we will have to import energy from out of state, which would lead to increased electricity bills,” Nardi said. “Families could face yet another price increase to their budgets, while other household costs like healthcare continue to rise.”
Joyce stressed the building trades favor multiple energy plants in the state, which he said is vital to bring additional industrial and manufacturing jobs to Ohio.
The building trades spend millions of dollars each year training their members, with additional training required to work inside Perry and Davis-Besse, Joyce said. The training helps put local money back into the local economy. Additionally, the “Red Badge” nuclear training allows tradesmen and tradeswomen to work at any nuclear plant in the nation, making them highly employable.
During outages, Joyce estimated building trades members travel to Perry and Oak Harbor from at least 50 Ohio counties and a few neighboring states.
This facet, along with lower power rates for nearly all Ohio electrical consumers; the need to have diversified power sources; and keeping 4,300 jobs in the state, combine to make a compelling argument why all Ohioans should be in favor of the passage of H.B. 6.
All building trades members, their families and the public are encouraged to contact their state senator and urge them to support House Bill 6.