As reported by Thomas Overton at PowerMag, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has cast a cloud of doubt over the decision by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to award a multi-billion dollar ratepayer subsidy to FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore near Toledo.
Although a significant development, the article reports that the hold may be temporary in nature:
On April 27, in a pair of rulings, FERC agreed with the groups challenging the PPAs, rescinding previous waivers it had issued to FirstEnergy and AEP allowing them to purchase power from their affiliate generators. Loss of the waivers effectively blocks the utilities from purchasing power under the PPAs until FERC has had a chance to review them. (emphasis added)
And, the article reports:
The ruling represents the second major blow this month against state efforts to support generating plants that have been unable to compete in interstate power markets. In two decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked programs in Maryland and New Jersey that sought to incentivize power plant construction through subsidies keyed to PJM [Pennsyllvania-Jersey-Maryland] capacity auctions [the grid network which encompasses Ohio].
On March 31, the PUCO ruled in favor of FENOC's proposal that ratepayers subsidize its age-degraded Davis-Besse nuclear plant, and a number of aged, uncompetitive coal plants, to the tune of $3.9 billion over eight years, at ratepayer expense.
And, as reported by Dan Gearino at the Columbus Dispatch, PUCO Chairman Andre Porter, his dirty deed done in approving the FENOC nuclear and coal bailouts (as well as additional American Electric Power fossil fuel bailouts), is now seeking greener pastures, after only a year in the job.
Beyond Nuclear has been a vocal opponent of the PUCO's ratepayer bailout for Davis-Besse. It has submitted written and oral testimony in the relevant proceedings for the entire tenure of PUCO Chairman Porter's tenure.
In addition, Beyond Nuclear, in coalition with Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Ohio Green Party, has officially intervened against Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension since December 2010. Toledo attorney Terry Lodge serves as legal counsel for the environmental coalition. Severe, and ever worsening, cracking of the concrete containment Shield Building was -- and still is -- a major concern (see photo, above left). In recent months, however, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission rubber-stamped the 2017-2037 license extension anyway.
Sierra Club also joined the coalition in officially intervening against the risky, experimental replacement of steam generators at Davis-Besse. Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc., served as the coalition's expert witness. NRC rubber-stamped the steam generator replacements regardless.