State Sen. Steve Wilson has expressed understandable frustration with the timing of House Bill 6, the controversial legislation designed to subsidize the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants. The Cincinnati Republican chairs the Energy & Public Utilities Committee, and the panel must act in a matter of weeks. FirstEnergy Solutions long has stated that it will close the plants if they do not receive financial assistance. The company also has emphasized that if the decision is to keep the plants operating, it must move forward with refueling starting this summer.

To complicate things, the bill involves much more than the fate of the nuclear plants. For instance, the House version all but wipes out the energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. It also allows for continuing to subsidize two coal-fired power plants that utilities jointly own. The legislation amounts to a failed effort at starting to shape the comprehensive energy strategy Ohio could use.

No wonder Wilson has floated the idea of stripping the measure of all provisions unrelated to the nuclear power plants. In one way, that would be a big disappointment. The moment is ripe for setting a path toward a clean energy economy, an objective endorsed by more than 60 businesses and organizations in a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted last week.

Ideally, that path would involve more than preserving the renewable and efficiency standards. It would include such things as repairing the restrictive setback requirements for wind turbines, the limitations virtually halting new wind power investment in the state. State lawmakers, and the governor, might even weigh setting a carbon emissions ceiling, designed to steadily reduce emission levels, encouraging the market to respond.

At the same time, If the state isn’t ready to act on a range of issues, it must deal now with the future of Perry, east of Cleveland, and Davis-Besse, near Toledo. The power plants account for 90 percent of the state’s clean energy. Their absence would be a huge environmental loss, carbon-emitting natural gas the likely replacement, wind and solar far from in position to fill the electricity gap.

That helps put in context the aggressive opposition of the oil and gas industry to aiding the nuclear power plants. The industry recently released a study portraying the nuclear plants in a much stronger financial position than they have claimed. FirstEnergy Solutions tapped its own expert who noted, correctly, that the study reflected limited information. More telling, he wondered how the two Ohio plants could avoid the tough circumstances afflicting nuclear power in this country and elsewhere.

If there is a recent study deserving attention, it comes from the International Energy Agency. The report reviews the unfavorable market conditions for nuclear power, driven largely by abundant and cheap natural gas, resulting in low wholesale electricity prices. The market doesn’t value in any adequate way the carbon-free quality of nuclear power.

The study also makes clear the crucial role of nuclear power in current efforts to slow climate change. It notes that advanced economies could lose as much as one-quarter of their nuclear capacity by 2025 and perhaps two-thirds by 2040, resulting in an additional 4 billion tons of carbon emissions. What about renewables? The study reports that solar and wind would need to add capacity at nearly five times the pace of the past two decades, an effort that would bring its own steep difficulties and costs.

So, Sen. Wilson has a point. When every megawatt of clean energy matters in addressing climate change, state lawmakers would do well to make sure they act soon to keep the Perry and Davis-Besse power plants in operation.