HB 6 deadline passes without a decision

Perry Nuclear Power Plant

Ohio legislators failed to meet a June deadline to pass House Bill 6 – legislation designed to keep Ohio’s two nuclear power plants open.

The June 30 deadline was set by FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., who hoped legislators would decide to subsidize the operation of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station and Perry Nuclear Power Plant reactors prior to the need to purchase fuel for Davis-Besse.

Since Ohio lawmakers could not reach a consensus on H.B. 6., the plants remain on schedule to close in 2020 and 2021, which will eliminate more than 4,000 jobs.

In a July 1 prepared statement, FES said they remain optimistic about the outcome for H.B. 6, but cannot purchase the fuel required for Davis-Besse’s next refueling cycle unless the legislation passes.

“We remain on path for a safe deactivation and decommissioning,” the company stated. “Should we receive the long-term certainty that comes with an affirmative vote within this timeframe, we will immediately reevaluate our options.”

Building Trades members perform tens of thousands of hours of work during shutdowns at Ohio’s two nuclear plants, which take place roughly every two years, as each nuclear plant creates between 500 and 600 jobs for building trades members during a shutdown. During this time, tradesmen and tradeswomen perform routine and preventative maintenance, replace fuel rods, conduct safety inspections and perform other work vital to keep the plants operational.

The Perry plant underwent a mandatory refueling shutdown earlier this year on March 10. The work was completed by April 6. The 27-day turnaround marked the shortest refueling outage in Perry’s 31 years of commercial operation, with the previous record being 29 days in 2017.

An FES news release said 300 of the 748 fuel assemblies were exchanged during the shutdown. Other work included numerous inspections, preventive maintenance and improvement projects, including testing approximately 100 valves, replacing several control rod blades and inspecting and cleaning cooling tower piping.  In total, more than 8,000 work activities were completed during the refueling outage.

Davis-Besse’s last outage took place in 2018 and now FES is waiting to purchase the $52 million worth of fuel needed to keep the plant running.

On May 29, a bipartisan coalition of Representatives in the Statehouse passed H.B. 6 by a 53-43 vote. Multiple media outlets reported members of the Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee did not agree with the House version of the legislation and are in the process of rewriting the bill.

If the Senate passes their own version of the bill, representatives from both chambers will have to meet and work out language acceptable to both the House and Senate.

In a prepared statement, FES stated they expect H.B. 6 to pass in the coming weeks and have communicated their commitment to doing everything possible to accommodate this process.

The Cleveland Building Trades urge affiliated members and their family and friends to call their state senators and urge support of passing HB 6.

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