Chris Zeigler's opening statement at Press Call on Ohio Poll on Nuclear Power Plants
As prepared for delivery
API Ohio Executive Director
Good morning and thank you for joining today’s call. My name is Chris Zeigler and I am the executive director of API Ohio.
There’s no question that natural gas continues to bring great benefits to Ohioans. In 2015, natural gas supported almost 190 thousand Ohio jobs and contributed nearly 27 billion dollars to the state’s economy. In addition, consumers have seen great benefits from the increased use of natural gas with the average American household saving as much as $1337 due to lower utility costs and other energy-related savings from the shale gas revolution. Lower energy prices are also helping drive manufacturing back to states like Ohio, and natural gas represents a clean and affordable fuel source for electricity generation.
Unfortunately, some would like our legislators in Columbus to put those benefits at risk by pushing legislation that would provide a bailout to First Energy’s Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants.
Let me be clear that we are not opposed to nuclear power, but these policy proposals directly contradict the will of Ohio voters as reflected by the statewide poll that we released over the summer.
Today we are releasing a new poll on the same issue that looks at the three counties in which FirstEnergy has its nuclear power facilities and headquarters – namely Lake, Summit and Ottawa counties.
In those counties, 81 percent of voters oppose a legislative proposal that would charge a special fee to increase revenue for FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants. The opposition is bipartisan: 88 percent of Democrats oppose it, as do 79 percent of Republicans, and 78 percent of Independents.
These results echo the results of a statewide poll we released over the summer on this very issue.
Picking winners and losers in the electricity markets by providing bailouts to nuclear plants, or any energy facility, at the expense of consumers would diminish the benefits that clean natural gas has brought to Ohio.
Again, I want to be very clear: API Ohio does not oppose nuclear power. What we oppose are legislative schemes that subsidize one form of energy over another, and create an uneven playing field that costs consumers, hurts manufacturers and threatens the state’s economy. Bailouts for nuclear plants distort the energy markets that have benefitted Ohio consumers by providing an affordable and reliable source of electricity.
We appreciated actions by the Ohio legislature to sideline this misguided legislation over the summer and welcome Governor Kasich’s refusal to support efforts that would bailout Ohio’s nuclear plants.
But as the legislature continues its important work in Columbus this session, we hope that these polls will serve as stark reminders of how voters feel about these possible legislative efforts.
With that, I will turn it back to Mike and take a few questions.