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Locals Beg Billionaire To Save Their Nuclear Power Plants

Nuclear power plant Temelin (Shutterstock/Nobor)

Ohioans sent a letter to billionaire Jeff Bezos imploring him to save imperiled two nuclear power plants by including them in his company’s green energy portfolio.

Doing so could save Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants along the shore of Lake Erie. Both plants are in danger of closing down. Amazon claims its data and fulfillment centers in Ohio get 100 percent of their power from green energy sources, like wind and solar.

The letter was sent Wednesday by a coalition of 30 “concerned citizens, scientists, business leaders, conservationists, and community leaders” living in Ohio. The effort was organized by the pro-nuclear environmental group Environmental Progress. They argue nuclear plants are clean energy infrastructure that could disappear without Bezos’ help.

“We are writing to urge you to expand Amazon’s commitment to clean energy and job creation by including nuclear energy in Amazon’s definition of renewables,” reads the letter. “Doing so would save Ohio’s nuclear plants, Davis-Besse and Perry, which provide 90 percent of Ohio’s electricity from clean energy, and 1,400 high-paying green jobs.”

“If Ohio’s nuclear plants are allowed to close they will be replaced overwhelmingly by coal and other fossil fuels,” the letter continues. “No amount of intermittent solar or wind energy can provide the 24-7, emissions-free electricity that nuclear plants provide. Only nuclear energy can provide the reliable and clean electricity required by Ohio’s cities and industries, including Amazon’s data and fulfillment centers.”

Ohio’s renewable energy standards were unfrozen in January and nuclear power isn’t listed as “clean energy” on them. These standards will offer financially incentives and subsidies to build intermittent wind and solar power, which could make the reactors unprofitable to operate. A similar situation occurred in California last July and ultimately led to an agreement to shut down that state’s last nuclear reactor.

A single nuclear reactor can eliminate 3.1 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. Nuclear generates 14 percent of all electricity in Ohio while wind and solar provide less than 2 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Nuclear power provides about 63 percent of America’s CO2-free power.

“This is a simple ask with significant impacts,” Christine Csizmadia, director of state government affairs at the Nuclear Energy Institute who was not involved with the letter, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s another example of broad coalitions stepping forward to preserve the economic and environmental benefits of nuclear like we saw in New York and Illinois.”

“If Amazon is indeed interested in jobs creation, clean energy and saving the planet, logically, it should be supporting nuclear energy nationally and favoring measures currently under consideration to extend Ohio’s nuclear plants,” David Blee, executive director of the Nuclear Infrastructure Council which was not involved with the letter, told TheDCNF.

The U.S. currently operates 99 nuclear reactors across 61 commercially-operated nuclear power plants, according to the Energy Information Administration. The average nuclear plant employs between 400 and 700 highly-skilled workers, has a payroll of about $40 million and contributes $470 million to the local economy, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

“Our plants are commonly located in small town America, and when they shutdown prematurely, the downstream effects are devastating,” Csizmadia said. “For example, Oak Harbor in Ohio, near our Perry plant, has canceled plans to build a new elementary school that was to serve 1,000 students. The Perry school district testified that losing the plant would be catastrophic since the plant provides 85 percent of the school’s budget.”

Nuclear power is not included in Ohio’s current renewable energy mandates, however Ohio has suspended those standards before and appears set to end them entirely.

“Bezos or not, state renewable portfolios that exclude nuclear energy have turned out to be costly, dysfunctional and fundamentally flawed,” Blee said. “They promote expensive energy, distort regional markets and compromise nuclear energy plants that are capable of producing far more economical carbon-free electricity than renewables.”

Republicans pushed a bill to gut an Ohio law mandating the state get 25 percent of its power from green energy by 2025. Analysis by Utah State University suggests that Ohio’s renewable energy mandate is responsible for 29,366 lost jobs and caused a $3,842 reduction in average household income.

“Ohio was wise to suspend its renewable energy standard, and it should be junked permanently or amended to include incentives for nuclear energy,” Blee said. “It is not surprising that local Ohioans are going to bat inasmuch nuclear plants such as the Davis-Besse and Perry Plants have been great neighbors and prodigious generators of high-paying long-term jobs and economic benefits for the state.”

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