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The media was on our side

Dec 17, 2019 10:22 AM

House Bill 6 was supposed to be easy to pass. In the end it took our opposition an extra month and a huge effort to win by just one vote. The media was on our side. The public was on our side. The strength of our members and power of grassroots organizing almost defeated the Goliath of greed and corruption.

It is simply astonishing to see the sheer number of articles, commentary and editorials published against House Bill 6. Not only while the bill was being debated in the legislature, but even after Governor Mike DeWine signed HB6 into law, every major newspaper continued to report on how HB6 is a giant leap backward for Ohio:


FirstEnergy corrupts democracy with gifts

Dec 16, 2019 11:55 AM

FirstEnergy spent millions on advertisements, lobbying and charitable giving to ensure the passage of House Bill 6, corrupting every branch of state government.

Supreme Court

The fate of FirstEnergy's bailout of its struggling nuclear and coal plants may rest in the hands of the Ohio Supreme Court.

But six of the seven justices sitting on the court have received campaign cash from the utility at some point in their judicial careers.

FirstEnergy’s PAC contributed more than $78,000 to state Supreme Court candidates since 2010.

source: Toledo Blade

Executive Branch

FirstEnergy gave nearly $23,000 to the campaign and inaugural celebration of Governor Mike DeWine. FirstEnergy also was among DeWine’s top campaign contributors in each of his last three elections (for governor and attorney general).

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Both Ohio’s Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost received money from FirstEnergy and other utility companies that supported HB 6. FirstEnergy ranked amongst LaRose’s top campaign donors with contributions totalling $25,408. It’s unsurprising, then, that these officials responsible for approving the HB 6 referendum effort would take their time in doing so.

Ohio General Assembly

FirstEnergy poured more than $400,000 into state legislative campaigns during the 2017-18 election cycle that helped create the General Assembly that passed HB6.

source: Toledo Blade

Charitable giving 

on Tuesday, the Energy and Policy Institute released a report, Strings Attached, that notes numerous cases in which recipients of gifts from utilities or their parent corporations provided legislative testimony or regulatory comments favorable to companies’ interests.

FirstEnergy uses philanthropy specifically to manipulate politics, policies and regulation.


Strings Attached: How utilities use charitable giving to influence politics and increase investor profits

Dec 12, 2019 4:11 PM

"Other non-profit organizations have also received funding from FirstEnergy and backed proposals to bail out the utility’s coal and nuclear power plants.

In 2019, Laura Jones, the executive director of Leadership Ashtabula, provided testimony in support of the bill that bailed out the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants in Ohio, which are now operated by the bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions. 

Leadership Ashtabula also submitted comments to FERC supporting Perry’s 2017 bailout proposal. The group received $4,000 from the FirstEnergy Foundation in 2017. 

Beth Hannam, executive director of the Sandusky County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC), testified in support of the 2019 bailout bill. The SCEDC received $3,000 from FirstEnergy Foundation in 2017.

A metadata analysis found the name of an outside lobbyist for FirstEnergy Solutions at the Dewey Square Group listed as the “author” of Hannam’s testimony. 

Hans Rosebrook, for FirstEnergy Corp., serves on the SCEDC’s board of directors and capital campaign and strategic plan committee.  
Applicants for grants from the FirstEnergy Foundations are encouraged to contact the local external affairs manager for FirstEnergy for their community. The company’s external affairs managers serve in leadership roles in some of the nonprofits the foundation funds."

-- The Energy and Policy Institute

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download the full report


Nuke plant owner gave to justices

Dec 09, 2019 10:23 AM

COLUMBUS — "The sole member of the current bench who has not received money from FirstEnergy PAC is Democratic Justice Michael Donnelly, elected in 2018.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor received $6,000 from the PAC in 2010; Justice Fischer received $13,400 in 2016; Justice Judith French, $6,700 in 2014; and Justice Sharon Kennedy, a total of $13,000 in 2012 and 2014. Justice Patrick DeWine received $2,700 for a prior lower court campaign in 2012.

All are Republicans.

The Supreme Court’s rules of practice allow for a party in a case to request that a particular justice recuse himself or herself from the case, but it is the justice’s decision whether to do so. Campaign contributions are not mentioned as potential disqualifier.

'Justices have no obligation to state a reason for a recusal, but are free to do so, since it is solely their decision whether to recuse or state a reason,' said Supreme Court spokesman Edward Miller."

— Jim Provance, The Toledo Blade

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FirstEnergy Solutions plans to change name to Energy Harbor

Nov 26, 2019 11:22 AM

The Perry nuclear power plant in Lake County

The Perry nuclear plant in Lake County, seen here, and the Davis Besse plant near Toledo are both owned by FirstEnergy Solutions, which plans to soon rename itself Energy Harbor.

COLUMBUS — "FirstEnergy Solutions, the Akron-based coal and nuclear power generating company, announced Monday it will change its name to Energy Harbor once its bankruptcy restructuring is finalized.

The company, founded in 1997 as a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., runs three nuclear power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as coal plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The company has been in the news frequently this year, both because of its efforts to emerge from bankruptcy and because of the passage of House Bill 6, under which it will get more than $1 billion from Ohio ratepayers to bail out its Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants in Northern Ohio.

A FirstEnergy Solutions spokeswoman didn’t immediately reply when asked Monday why the company was changing its name.

In a release, FirstEnergy Solutions CEO John Judge said the name Energy Harbor 'reflects a focus on providing our customers and local communities with safe and resilient energy in addition to industry leading service to manage their energy needs.'”

— Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com

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Congrats Brad!

Nov 22, 2019 4:09 PM

Brad Holmes

In early June, we welcomed Brad Holmes as our new Phone Canvass Director at our Cleveland office. Brad is a 2018 graduate of Bowling Green State University and first joined our staff as a field canvasser in May 2018, but quickly moved to become a leading phone organizer.  He is thrilled to take on this leadership role to empower others in the professional realms of activism, politics, and environmental advocacy. He has been involved in community rights and sustainability activism through several student groups, which then tied into his undergraduate education in Environmental Policy, Ethics, and Sociology. He replaces long-time director Stephen Gabor, who was promoted to Membership Director. In only 6 months in his new position, Brad has doubled the size of Ohio Citizen Action's phone canvass staff, and trained them so well that our campaign and fundraising goals have been consistently met, often weeks ahead of schedule.


AEP Ohio solar project suffers setback

Nov 22, 2019 3:29 PM

COLUMBUS -- "The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) voted Thursday to deny AEP Ohio’s application for a rate hike for customers to finance the 400-megawatt project in Highland County.

A typical AEP Ohio residential consumer who uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month would have paid 28 cents per month initially to finance the project, but AEP expected that fee to decrease over time — a forecast disputed by the project’s opponents.

Ohio law requires that the commission determine whether a proposed project to generate electricity is needed."

-- Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch

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Ohioans tell State Representative Upchurch that they have not forgotten his vote on House Bill 6

Nov 22, 2019 10:41 AM

Consumer group running radio ads with a reminder of Upchurch’s support of coal bailout

Rep. Terrence Upchurch

CINCINNATI – Four months after the passage of controversial House Bill 6, the Ohio Consumers Power Alliance has launched a radio campaign reminding voters in Ohio House District 10 that State Representative Terrence Upchurch voted against their best interest when he voted in support of the legislation in July 2019.

House Bill 6 bailed out two failing nuclear power plants and two of the region’s oldest and dirtiest coal plants, while gutting the state’s successful renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. The bill imposes a monthly fee on every electric ratepayer across the state to subsidize FirstEnergy Solutions to the tune of $150 million each year to keep their nuclear power plants operational. In addition, $50 million each year will be used to subsidize two coal plants, one of which is located in Indiana. At the same time, the reversal of the energy efficiency standards is estimated to cost Ohioans $4 billion in cost savings that will no longer happen.

Voices on the radio spot currently airing on WMJI and WTAM in Cleveland tell Representative Upchurch, “We will remember. We will remember your yes vote on HB 6. We will remember that you voted for Wall Street investors over hardworking Ohioans…Your vote on HB 6 bailed out two outdated nuclear power plants and two coal plants – one that’s in Indiana. Your vote killed Ohio’s renewable energy standards and energy efficiency efforts. We will remember.”

“Even though the legislative debate has ended and threats of violence against signature collectors have stopped, it is critical that Ohioans remember their elected officials made a choice on House Bill 6,” said Rachael Belz, Project Director of Ohio Consumers Power Alliance. “In Cleveland, State Representative Terrence Upchurch chose a corporate bailout of dirty coal plants over the health of Ohioans and the potential economic growth coming from clean energy innovation. We will remember.”

Ohio ranks 4th in the United States and 29th in the world for the highest levels of carbon emissions, not a distinction of which Representative Upchurch should be proud. These increased emissions are the equivalent of putting 2 million more cars on the road. Yet, Representative Upchurch supported the legislation on two separate occasions.

“House Bill 6 will take money out of our pockets and hand it over to corporations spending thousands of dollars each year lobbying our elected officials,” said Belz. “While these ads remind those in District 10 of Representative Upchurch’s vote today, the increases in their electric bills and the cuts to their family’s monthly budget will remind them of his vote for years to come.”

-- press release, Rachael Belz, Ohio Consumers Power Alliance

Radio ad 1

Radio ad 2


LaRose asks Ohio Supreme Court to not answer questions on referendum process

Nov 18, 2019 4:52 PM

Image result for frank larose

COLUMBUS — "Mr. LaRose maintains that since Judge Sargus already rejected the federal First Amendment claim, there is no federal issue left that would be resolved by answering the five questions.

The law’s opponents urged the court to accept the federal queries.

'[T]he Ohio Supreme Court has the opportunity to right a wrong — the legislature has restricted the right of referendum for far too long,' the brief filed by environmental and government watchdog groups reads in part.

'In today’s context, restricting the democratic power of the people represents serious risks to Ohio’s democracy, the future of Ohio’s energy system, and the fight against climate change …,' it states. 'Ohio has the opportunity to enhance and invigorate its democracy — or, it can reduce democracy to a pay-to-play game, whereby only those with the largest bank accounts can achieve meaningful change.'"

— Jim Provance, The Toledo Blade 

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HB 6 referendum fight highlights the troubling ways Ohio voters can be silenced

Nov 08, 2019 4:41 PM

Image result for cleveland plain dealer logo

"Whether Ohio voters will or won’t get a chance to veto House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout bill, is a question entangled in a legal thicket. But complexity and pettifogging can’t mask the stakes: Do procedural laws, and the ability of those with deep pockets to monetize success in a petition drive, wrongly impair Ohioans’ constitutional right to vote up or down laws the General Assembly has passed?

Nearly a century ago, in 1915, the Ohio Supreme Court seemingly answered that question. The court said the 1912 constitutional amendment giving Ohioans the referendum was crafted 'to put it beyond the power of an unfriendly General Assembly to cripple or to destroy [it].' That’s not the only precedent on the issue, but, coming when it did, so soon after Ohio adopted the referendum, it deserves weight.

HB 6, passed in July, requires Ohio electricity consumers to subsidize the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants on Lake Erie, plus two coal-fueled Ohio Valley Electric Corp. plants, one in Indiana, and it phases out the state’s renewable-energy mandate."

-- Editorial Board, Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer

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