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Crain's Editorial: Start leading

Dec 06, 2020 6:58 PM

Crain's Cleveland Business Logo - Economic Innovation Group

"Fortunately, and finally, there are some signs of progress on the HB 6 front in the Legislature's lame duck session. Lawmakers in both chambers are discussing bills that would either repeal or make significant changes to HB 6, which, as it stands now, would fund $1.6 billion in utility subsidies starting Jan. 1 through a new customer surcharge, offset by the elimination of some charges that pay for renewable energy projects and energy efficiency programs.

One piece of legislation, House Bill 798, would delay the subsidies for a year. Importantly, Cleveland.com reported, it would end a provision of the bill known as 'decoupling,' which 'ensures a guaranteed level of income for FirstEnergy and (theoretically) other utilities.' That provision, according to Cleveland.com, 'allows FirstEnergy to charge ratepayers a total of $355 million more through 2024 to guarantee the company a yearly revenue of $978 million.' This bill may have the juice to make it, since it was introduced by the chair of the Ohio House's special HB 6 study committee and has the support of Bob Cupp, the new House Speaker.

An alternative, Senate Bill 346, is a full-on repeal, which might be more satisfying, but at this late hour in the legislative session is considerably dicier.

We're in better-late-than-never territory now, and a delay of the subsidies would give the Legislature another chance to get things right. But it's still a pretty dispiriting statement on leadership in the state that we're cutting it so close in trying to right an obvious wrong."

-- Editorial, Cleveland Crain's Business

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Ohio lawmaker proposes delaying House Bill 6 subsidies for nuclear power plants

Dec 02, 2020 10:07 PM

Rep. Jim Hoops
Rep. Jim Hoops

"Hoops, [chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight] doesn't support a full repeal of House Bill 6.

'There were some good things I feel that were in the bill,' Hoops said. 'I think we want to keep the nuclear plants here in Ohio.'

Ohio Citizen Action responded to the filing of House Bill 798.

'Delaying the collection of nuclear and solar subsidies for a year does little more than kick the can down the road for Ohio consumers,' Rachael Belz, executive director of Ohio Citizen Action, said.

'If the Legislature can acknowledge that House Bill 6 is so flawed that implementation should be on hold for a year, they should finally demonstrate the leadership we are all waiting for and repeal House Bill 6 outright before the end of session.'"

Highland County Press 

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Bills to Repeal or Alter House Bill 6 Resurface in Ohio's Lame-Duck Session

Dec 02, 2020 10:01 PM

ADOBESTOCK                                                                                                            AdobeStock

COLUMBUS, Ohio - "Ohio's controversial energy-bailout legislation at the center of a bribery scandal is getting some new attention in Columbus this week.

Lawmakers in both chambers are discussing bills that would either repeal or alter House Bill 6 - which would fund $1.6 billion in utility subsidies through a new customer surcharge.

The 2019 legislation is at the heart of an alleged $60 million bribery scheme, which Rachel Belz - executive director with Ohio Citizen Action - noted came to light over four months ago.

'People are just so mad that they can't seem to do anything about this,' said Belz. 'It's sort of a rudderless ship in Columbus. And if they don't repeal House Bill 6, then FirstEnergy starts to collect our money January 1st. It's an impending deadline that they don't seem to be taking seriously.'"

- Mary Kuhlman, Ohio News Connection

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Environmental group wants PUCO to reconsider cases after chair resigned

Nov 24, 2020 6:10 PM

Sam Randazzo, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

COLUMBUS, Ohio--"An environmental group is asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to throw out and re-do proceedings that involve Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. during the nearly two years that Sam Randazzo led the PUCO.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center filed a motion Tuesday with the PUCO, just five days after Randazzo resigned as PUCO chairman.

Last week, FBI agents executed a search warrant at a Columbus condo owned by Randazzo and hauled away boxes of material."

--Laura Bischoff, Dayton Daily News

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PUCO asked to vacate FirstEnergy actions under Randazzo's leadership

Nov 24, 2020 10:29 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio--"The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is being asked to vacate actions it took related to FirstEnergy Corp. while former chairman Sam Randazzo was in charge and to hold new hearings.

The request was filed late Tuesday by the Environmental Law & Policy Center."

--The Toledo Blade

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Continued House Bill 6 fallout has Ohio lawmakers scrambling

Nov 23, 2020 6:00 PM

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio--"Several different pieces of legislation have been introduced to fully or partially repeal HB6, but no action has been taken yet. Legislators have until session ends Dec. 31 to do something before Ohioians start to pay for the energy industry subsidies through a $2.35 fee tacked onto their electric bills on Jan. 1.

Attorney General Dave Yost filed suit Nov. 13 to stop the collection of those charges, saying the 'people of Ohio are about to be shaken down for money they should not have to pay based on how HB 6 was enacted.'

Randazzo’s resignation has more people and groups, including State Rep. David Leland, Ohio Consumer Power Alliance and Ohio Citizen Action, calling for a repeal of HB 6."

--Rachel Wagoner, Farm and Dairy

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Ohio PUC Chairman Samuel Randazzo abruptly resigns four days after FBI searched his home

Nov 23, 2020 9:51 AM

COLUMBUS -- "Randazzo's resignation as well as the new revelations in FirstEnergy's 10-Q come four months after the FBI searched the homes of former Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, R, and four associates, and the subsequent indictment of all of them on racketeering and public corruption charges in connection with the passage of legislation authorizing state-wide utility bill increases to bail out two nuclear power plants owned by a former FirstEnergy subsidiary as well as bail out two 65-year-old coal-fired plants owned by all of the state's power companies. Two of the four Householder associates have pled guilty, while Householder and the others await trial. 

FirstEnergy was implicated in the federal investigation as one of the companies that contributed nearly $61 million to bankroll Householder's efforts to pass the bailout legislation, known as House Bill 6. Efforts to repeal H.B. 6 since the indictments have stalled. The company has been served federal subpoenas and is also under investigation by the SEC.

FirstEnergy's revelation in its SEC 10-Q filing on Thursday evening that 'certain former members of senior management' violated company ethics policies when they paid nearly $4 million to close out a six-year consulting contract did not name Randazzo or his consulting company, but instead described a person associated with a consulting company who subsequently became a state utility regulator."

-- John Funk, Utility Dive

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Response to resignation of PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo

Nov 20, 2020 12:30 PM

Today, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Sam Randazzo resigned following a week that included an early morning FBI raid on his Columbus home and the disclosure by FirstEnergy that its CEO and others were fired for issuing a $4 million payment to an unnamed individual who was subsequently appointed to serve as a state public utility regulator. 

Our organizations opposed the appointment of Randazzo from the beginning of the nomination process. His decades-long career as an anti-clean energy lobbyist and lawyer made him the wrong choice to oversee regulation of Ohio’s utilities and protect Ohio consumers.

Throughout the last several months, Randazzo claimed he had no ties to FirstEnergy, the corporation at the center of a $61 million bribery and corruption scandal that rocked Ohio in July. But bankruptcy filings told a different story, directly tying two companies owned by Randazzo, Sustainable Funding Alliance of Ohio and IEU Administration Company, to FirstEnergy Solutions.

Sam Randazzo’s ties to FirstEnergy influenced decision after decision at the PUCO and sabotaged the growth of Ohio’s clean energy future. He was out of touch with what Ohioans want and did a great disservice to our state’s energy consumers. We deserve better. We deserve an energy policy that creates Ohio jobs, builds our economy at a time when we need it most, and reduces the pollution that impacts health. We deserve an energy policy that is not clouded by corruption and lies. And we deserve a PUCO Chairman that is free from these utility ties.

As the Ohio legislature continues to stall in repealing House Bill 6, it is our sincere hope that the resignation and cloud of corruption surrounding former Chairman Randazzo will be the push they need to finally end this cycle of deceit and erosion of confidence. We urge them to adopt a full repeal of House Bill 6 now and demonstrate the leadership this state so desperately needs.

Rachael Belz, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action


FirstEnergy: Ohio regulator’s firm got $4M consulting fee

Nov 19, 2020 8:00 PM

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — "Fired former FirstEnergy executives improperly paid a firm tied to a future Ohio utility regulator about $4 million early last year to terminate “a purported consulting agreement” that had been in place since 2013, one of the nation’s largest electric utilities told federal regulators on Thursday.

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo was not mentioned by name in the company’s tardy quarterly report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. However, Randazzo fits the description of someone who 'subsequently was appointed to a full-time role as an Ohio government official directly involved in regulating' FirstEnergy. Randazzo was appointed chairman by Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Feb. 4, 2019."

Julie Carr Smyth and Mark Gillispie, Associated Press

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Ohio governor deflect questions on public utility official

Nov 17, 2020 5:00 PM

PUCO chairman Sam Randazzo

 

COLUMBUS - "A coalition of consumer and environmental groups on Tuesday called on DeWine to immediately remove Randazzo from the PUCO, citing his 'well-known' ties to FirstEnergy. The governor has the sole authority to remove PUCO commission members.

'We have adamantly opposed Randazzo’s appointment since February 2019. He does not hold an elected position, so the power to remove him rest squarely on the shoulders of the governor,' the coalition said in a joint statement.

The groups, including Ohio Citizen Action, Black Environmental Leaders, Evangelical Environmental Network and Moms Clean Air Force, said Randazzo can’t oversee utilities in a fair and ethical way if he is being investigated by the FBI."

-- Julie Carr Smyth and Mark Gillispie, Associated Press

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