The $16.5 billion AEP and $15 billion FirstEnergy described the plans as price hedges in case natural gas power prices go up. They said the plants are more reliable than gas, the fuel that's increasingly replacing coal and nuclear because of its price and abundance in U.S. shale plays.Whatever costs might be needed to keep the companies' six coal-powered plants and one nuclear plant in working condition for the next eight years will fall to ratepayers — regardless of market fluctuations and the ongoing (if glacially paced) push for greater access to renewable energy in Ohio.
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