Like many other nuclear plants — especially those in Ohio, Michigan, and other states with deregulated electricity markets — it has been unable to compete economically with natural gas since a global fracking boom grew out of a revolutionary horizontal drilling technique developed by the oil and gas industry.
The result has been record-low natural gas prices. That, along with growing investments in wind and solar power that dropped prices for the renewable energy sector, made nuclear and coal noncompetitive. Costs for operating most nuclear and coal-fired power plants now exceed those for many plants fueled by natural gas, as well as wind power, solar power, and other types of renewable energy.
In a January interview in which he outlined Davis-Besse’s bleak financial outlook, James Pearson, FirstEnergy’s chief financial officer, told The Blade it was “entirely accurate” for employees to believe this outage would likely be the plant’s final one.