Officials: Closing Davis-Besse could have devastating effect

The Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant Station has been in service since 1977. (Jim Nelson/WNWO)

There are reports that the Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant in Ottawa County could shut down in a cost-saving measure.

The plant, situated near Oak Harbor in Carroll Township, employs more than 600 people.

"It creates a livelihood within the community," said Ottawa County Board of Commissioners President Jim Sass.

Closing the plant appears to be one of three options on the table for FirstEnergy, which operates the plant.

The company says it is looking to make changes over the next 12 to 18 months in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia.

"As part of the process, we are exploring a variety of strategic alternatives for plants owned by FirstEnergy subsidiaries operating in the competitive marketplace, including Davis-Bess," the company said in a statement. "These alternatives include converting generation to a regulated or regulated-like construct, seeking solutions for nuclear units that recognize their environmental benefits, exploring the sale of additional generation assets, or moving forward with additional deactivations.

"Because that strategic analysis is still underway and no decisions have been made, it would be premature to speculate about the outcome, or any potential impacts, at this time."

Jamie Beier Grant, the director of the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation, says drastic changes at the plant would cause damage beyond dollars and cents.

"They're our friends, family, co-workers, the coaches in our schools. It goes well beyond the money aspect," Beier Grant said.

But the money aspect is hard to ignore.

According to Sass, more than $10 million in property tax is generated through the plant.

Seven million of that goes directly into the Benton Carroll Salem school district.

And on top of revenue, FirstEnergy says Davis-Besse supplies 40 percent of the electricity used by residences, businesses and industries in northwest Ohio.

"You want to believe there would be a recovery," Sass says of a potential closure. "(But) it would be a challenge to take that kind of hit."

Some of the employees there are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 245 in Rossford. Others are non-union employees.

At this time, no official timetable for a decision has been set.

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