Recent news

Access to utilities needed during the pandemic

May 13, 2020 3:13 PM

CLEVELAND -  A statewide coalition representing nearly a hundred thousand Ohioans released a new set of demands calling on Governor Mike DeWine and PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo to ensure every Ohioan has access to basic water, power, and broadband internet during the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic fallout.

Gov. DeWine has taken much-needed steps to ensure that Ohioans have access to utilities throughout the state of emergency, but more must be done to guarantee continued access once the state of emergency is lifted and Ohioans try to recover from the current economic crisis. Although many regulated utilities have taken steps to reconnect households in response to the crisis, most of those steps have been voluntary and unenforceable. Most regulated utilities are only deferring reconnection fees, rather than waiving such penalties entirely.

This is a matter of public health: how can you wash your hands without water? This is a matter of public education: how can children be properly homeschooled without access to power and broadband? This is about economic recovery: how can Ohioans keep working from home without adequate utilities?

Without clear and humane statewide guidelines for all utilities, and without a plan to alleviate the financial burden facing households affected by the ongoing crisis, Ohioans face uncertainty about how they will maintain access to essential utility services. State regulators have asked investor-owned utilities to submit a plan to deal with the crisis, but there is no deadline or transparency regarding these submissions. In comparison, the Ohio EPA has ordered that all public water utilities stop shutoffs, reconnect all households and waive reconnection fees.

"Too many Ohio families are on the brink of a fiscal cliff," said Rachael Belz, Executive Director for Ohio Citizen Action, one of 52 co-sponsors of the effort. "As bills for electricity, water, gas, and internet come due, hundreds of thousands of Ohioians who have lost jobs and income due to the crisis are at risk for shutoffs. Without these basic services for all, our economic recovery will be uneven and ineffective. We need decisive action from state policy makers right now."


Public interest groups unite to form Duke Energy watchdog

May 07, 2020 12:19 PM

Public Interest Groups Unite To Form Duke Energy Watchdog

WASHINGTON -- "A coalition of public interest, social justice, watchdog and environmental groups are joining forces to hold Duke Energy, the largest investor-owned U.S. electric utility, accountable for its policies, which impact almost 8 million Americans in six states – and by extension, impede the nation’s progress toward a clean energy future.

The coalition will work to improve Duke Energy’s greenhouse gas emission reductions, transition from fossil fuels to renewables, ratepayer affordability and equity, coal ash cleanup and health impacts, influence spending and more. The announcement of the new coalition comes on the same day Duke Energy holds its annual shareholder meeting.

The Duke Energy Accountability Coalition is a project of Appalachian Voices, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, the Energy and Policy Institute, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, NC WARN, Ohio Citizen Action and the League of Women Voters of South Carolina. (For statements from some of the member organizations, see below.)

The coalition will spotlight work by environmental and consumer advocates, energy experts and frontline communities in states where Duke Energy operates as a monopoly utility. It will provide fact checks on key documents released by Duke, such as its federal Securities and Exchange Commission filings, annual Sustainability Reports and Integrated Resource Plans."

-- Alex Formuzis, Environmental Working Group

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Car Protest to Demand Utility Restoration

May 05, 2020 1:07 PM

CLEVELAND -- Wednesday, April 29 saw a well-attended, car-based protest that drew urgent attention to the need  for a utility shutoff moratorium during this pandemic.

How can you wash your hands if you don't have water? How can you homeschool your children if you don't have power and the internet?

Activists from all over the city gathered downtown for a short and socially-distant rally, followed by a protest caravan around the Cleveland Public Power and Cleveland Public Water buildings. More than 50 cars participated, honking horns and bearing signs with a clear message: utilities are a human right.

Ohio Citizen Action and its allies in the End Poverty Now Coalition got the message acrossed to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson that now was a time for compassion and accountability. You can still sign the petition, urging the immediate reconnection of utilities for any residents currently without them, as well as the suspension of penalties and reconnection fees for the duration of Ohio state of emergency and stimulus efforts to drive our economic recovery. 

More photos from the event:


Citizens groups demand aggressive Cleveland utility reconnections

Apr 15, 2020 5:23 PM

End Poverty Now is a coalition of 22 groups in Cleveland that works to address and combat issues of poverty in Cleveland communities. The above photo lists the coalition's demands concerning the utility shutoffs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

CLEVELAND — "Rachael Belz, Executive Director for Ohio Citizen Action told News 5 the coalition has started a petition drive, calling on the city to more aggressively let citizens know they can have service temporarily restored.

Belz said the growing financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis is going to have even more residents get behind on paying their utility bills.

'How do they even find out that’s what they’re supposed to do,' Belz said.

'Even sending a postcard or making a phone call or at least try to make a phone call and leave a message.'

— Joe Pagonakis, News 5 Cleveland

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A message to our members

Mar 26, 2020 11:22 AM

As organizations that focus on environmental health and consumer-based issues, Ohio Citizen Action and the Ohio Consumers Power Alliance hold the well-being and safety of Ohioans at the center of everything we do. Our tireless staff of canvassers and managers work everyday to personally engage members of the public and mobilize them to action around issues that impact us all. Few issues have impacted our day to day lives like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the steps being taken in the state to keep people safe and healthy. 

In following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and to reduce the risk to our staff and the public, both Ohio Citizen Action and the Ohio Consumers Power Alliance will be suspending all canvass activities until further notice. 

Our staff will not be resuming door-to-door activities or hosting gatherings until it is safe to do so as indicated by public health experts. They will continue in other roles with the organization through this period of change.

It is our goal to serve as a resource to you on the latest information about Ohio Department of Health recommendations, updates on community guidelines, and other services available to help with the challenges we will all face during this time. 

The State of Ohio has established a website and hotline staffed by professionals ready to answer your questions: www.coronavirus.ohio.gov and 1-833-4-ASK-ODH. Information on the site includes ways to reduce anxiety, prevent the spread of the virus, and guidelines for home-based student education. In addition, you can watch Governor DeWine and ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton each afternoon at 2pm for the latest updates at www.ohiochannel.org.

Of course, our first priority is the health and safety of our staff and the community at large, but we can’t ignore the fact that suspending field canvassing represents a significant loss of revenue and a challenge the likes of which we haven’t seen in our 45-year history. For the health of the organization and the Power a Clean Future Ohio Campaign, we’d ask our friends to consider a special gift at ohiocitizen.org/contribute to help us through. 

Thank you for your continued support through the years and in this moment of change for our organizations. We wish you and your families peace and good health.

Rachael Belz, executive director

Ohio Citizen Action



Dark money dominated Ohio's nuclear subsidy saga

Mar 06, 2020 11:36 AM

a nuclear cooling tower

"After-the-fact filings show that FirstEnergy’s generation subsidiary paid nearly $2 million to Generation Now, one of the special interest groups that orchestrated ads, political donations and other efforts behind Ohio’s nuclear and coal bailout.

But legal loopholes make it harder to find out the total spent and who else was behind xenophobic advertising, dueling voter petitions, alleged intimidation and other claims of foul play. And none of those actions fully disclosed who was behind them.

The scant public filings that are available show additional connections to FirstEnergy Solutions (now Energy Harbor), as well as the law firm of an outspoken legislator who has long fought the state’s clean energy standard, and others with high-level political influence."

-- Kathiann Kowalski, Energy News Network

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Power A Clean Future Welcomes Lancaster to Coalition

Feb 27, 2020 4:14 PM

The following statement can be attributed to Joe Flarida, executive director, Power A Clean Future Ohio, in response to the Lancaster State of the City Address.

This announcement is an exciting moment for the City of Lancaster. We applaud Mayor Scheffler for recognizing the impact his city can have toward a clean energy future. We look forward to working with Mayor Scheffler and the community to find ways Lancaster can grow the clean energy economy locally, protect the environment for the next generation, and ensure the health and prosperity of its residents. The climate challenges we face require bold leadership and local government demonstrated again today that it can get things done. Power a Clean Future Ohio is thrilled to have Lancaster join our campaign to develop and implement proven climate solutions.”


2019 Year in review

Feb 17, 2020 2:47 PM

Today we release our 2019  year-in-review report. Copies will be mailed to all major donors this week. Many thanks to all the members, staff and volunteers who made 2019 a great year for Ohio Citizen Action.

Link to report (pdf)

2019yearinreviewreportcover.png


Ohio green-energy groups increasingly look to locals in fight against global warming

Feb 13, 2020 4:41 PM

COLUMBUS — "Environmental advocates have been working on the local level for years, finding success in getting cities to commit to getting 100 percent of their energy from renewable sourcesreplacing gas-powered city vehicles with electric cars, and even building their own solar arrays, among other things.

But now, such efforts are becoming more organized with the creation of Power A Clean Future Ohio, which will work to help municipal leaders implement carbon-reduction plans. The new group is backed by organizations such as the Ohio Environmental Council, the Ohio Mayors Alliance, and the Sierra Club’s Ohio chapter.

'Regardless of what the state is doing, there’s just a lot of opportunity for local governments to step in here, and to take a kind of leadership role,' said Joe Flarida, executive director of Power A Clean Future Ohio. 'There’s just kind of a natural fit there and a lot of authority that they have to do things right away, so we’re taking advantage.'"

— Jeremy Pelzer, Cleveland.com

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