Late last year, FirstEnergy announced their intention to either shutter or sell the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants in Ohio—the state’s only nuclear power generation facilities. Recognizing the potentially devastating effects upon our members and their broader communities, the UWUA sprung into action, pushing Ohio lawmakers to enact a fair and sensible solution that would prevent these unnecessary and shortsighted closures.
As part of our ongoing efforts, the UWUA recently participated in a nuclear technology educational symposium organized by the American Nuclear Society, the AFL-CIO, and The North American Young Generation in Nuclear. The event was held at the Ohio Statehouse and UWUA Sr. National Rep. Kelly Cooper delivered a powerful keynote speech highlighting what is at stake for Ohioans on this important issue. While the environmental impact of closing these zero-carbon emitting plants is clear—approximately 90% of the carbon-free electricity produced in Ohio comes from the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear facilities—what tends to get lost in many policy discussions are the real human impacts of such closures.
As Cooper stated in his speech, “Far more is at stake than simply whether a plant such as Perry Nuclear will or will not close. The fate of an entire local economy hangs in the balance of such a decision. Allowing the economics of the moment to push such a plant to closure, ignores both the future of energy economics and the future of an entire community.…Once the jobs and revenue are gone, they are gone for good. Workers will disperse out of the community in search of jobs, local government budgets will shrink, and the area that is left behind will be the poorer for it, in both economic and human terms.”
Taking the full gamut of issues into consideration, from energy stability, to local economics, environmental concerns and, yes, the human factor – we at the Utility Workers Union of America strongly support the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resource Program (ZEN). This legislation recognizes the important role that large baseload nuclear power plants have played in the economy of the state for decades, and by supporting these plants on a per-megawatt basis, the ZEN Program would help to ensure that the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear plants continue to support middle-class jobs, local economies, environmental progress, and affordable, reliable power for many years to come.