Uncertainty over the future of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant and the economic impact from the plant being possibly idled or sold has led the Benton-Carroll-Salem school board to remove a bond issue from the May 2 ballot.
Board members cited the possible devaluation, noting it would result in an increase in property taxes for homeowners and farmers if the bond issue had passed.
The school board had decided last November to place a bond issue on the May ballot to finance a new K-7 building that would be constructed on land west of the Oak Harbor High School along State Route 163. It would replace the current Oak Harbor Middle School, which houses grades four through seven, and the R.C. Waters Elementary School, which houses kindergarten through third grades. The buildings were constructed in 1911 and 1956 respectively.
A bond issue on the ballot last August was rejected by voters.
Guy Parmigian, B-C-S superintendent, said the board still believes there is a need for a new building but was swayed to pull the measure because its cost couldn’t be communicated adequately to voters because of the Davis-Besse situation.
"We have weathered the storm of (electrical) deregulation 20 years ago, and we are still here. We will continue to be focused on what is best for students in the future," said board president Steve Rhodes.
A committee that had been studying the needs of the district, Citizens for Quality Schools, on Tuesday recommended the board not pursue the ballot issue.
Bill Poiry, committee chairman, said the group is still concerned about the cost to maintain two aging buildings and their suitability for current educational needs, but agreed there is too much uncertainty about the power plant.
FirstEnergy Corp. has announced its intention to exit the energy generation component of its business either by closing or selling its coal and nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania if the states don’t establish a format for re-regulating them and setting rates.
During an earnings call last November, Charles Jones, FirstEnergy president and chief executive officer, said FirstEnergy Solutions and Allegheny Energy Supply, the company’s subsidiaries that own the power plants, are unable to operate profitably at current energy prices.
Filing for bankruptcy by the subsidiaries is also an option.
“The company announced it is in the process of identifying how we can thoughtfully yet expeditiously move away from competitive markets over the next 12 to 18 months in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. Competitive market conditions continue to deteriorate, with weak power prices, insufficient results from recent capacity auctions and anemic demand forecasts,” Jennifer Young, a FirstEnergy spokesperson, said last month. “The strategic review of FirstEnergy’s competitive generation plants continues, and no decisions have been made for Davis-Besse at this time.”