Towns on edge over nuclear plants after bribery scandal

FILE-In this Oct. 5, 2011 file photo, the cooling tower of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station looms over an adjacent farm in Oak Harbor, Ohio. Across the nation, a handful of nuclear plants unable to compete with natural gas and renewable energy have shut down within the last two years, taking away steady and lucrative sources of tax money for schools, roads and libraries. The uncertainty surrounding the future of both Ohio plants, Davis-Besse near Toledo and Perry near Cleveland, has created plenty of nervousness in their hometowns that have found themselves caught in the middle of the scandal-tainted bailout. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - For much of the past four years, the residents of a pair of villages along Lake Erie have been on edge over the fate of their nuclear plants, which generate enough tax money to pay for nicer schools than their neighbors.

Like many U.S. nuclear plants struggling to compete with with natural gas and renewable energy, the owners of the Ohio plants turned to the government for help, persuading the state's lawmakers to give them a $1 billion bailout.

But relief for the villages of Perry and Oak Harbor was short-lived after the financial rescue became entangled in a political bribery scandal that has brought calls to jettison the bailout.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of both Ohio plants - Davis-Besse near Toledo and Perry near Cleveland - has created a new wave of anxiety that is stretching into another year after state lawmakers, at the end of December, put off deciding whether to repeal the bailout or come up with a new financial lifeline that would keep the plants open.