Recent news

Ohio judge blocks collection of House Bill 6 nuclear bailout fee

Dec 21, 2020 7:00 PM

File:Davis Besse cooling tower.jpg

Davis-Besse cooling tower. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

COLUMBUS, Ohio—"A Franklin County judge on Monday blocked the collection and distribution of the House Bill 6 nuclear bailout fee, which Ohio ratepayers were scheduled to start paying next month.

Common Pleas Judge Chris Brown’s blockbuster ruling comes as state lawmakers dither on what, if anything, to do about the $1 billion-plus nuclear bailout in HB 6, the law that ex-House Speaker Larry Householder allegedly pushed through using the largest bribery scheme in Ohio history."

—Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com

Link to full article.


Fix for troubled Ohio energy law coming down to the wire

Dec 21, 2020 6:06 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio--"State lawmakers are split into multiple camps over how Ohio should change an energy law that is at the center of an alleged $60-million bribery scheme.

Millions of Ohio ratepayers in January are scheduled to start paying a new monthly fee that will generate $150 million a year to bailout two nuclear power plants owned by Energy Harbor.

A Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge on Monday issued a preliminary injunction to block collection of the fees. It is unclear if that order may be appealed."

--Laura Bischoff, Dayton Daily News

Read more.


Energy Harbor seeks option of turning down HB6 nuclear bailout money

Dec 21, 2020 2:40 PM

File:David Besse NPP-2.jpg

Cooling tower at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio—"Energy Harbor is lobbying for state lawmakers to allow it to decide whether to accept more than $1 billion in House Bill 6 bailout money for its two nuclear power plants because a federal regulatory ruling might otherwise make the subsidies a liability, according to a top lawmaker.

It’s still unclear whether legislators will agree to the proposal, which is being crafted by House Majority Leader Bill Seitz, or whether they will pass any reforms to HB6 at all on Tuesday, expected to be the final day of the current legislative session."

—Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com

Read more.


HB 6 an example of energy policies that especially hurt Ohioans of color: Jacquie Gillon

Dec 20, 2020 2:55 PM

Jacqueline Gillon

 

"The political and ethical failings behind the process that produced Ohio House Bill 6 are well-documented. The lack of transparency, alleged backroom dealings fueled by dark money, and subsequent subversion of the ideals of democracy will serve as the sad, lasting legacy of regressive policies that exist to enrich corporations over communities while mortgaging our current progress toward clean energy and a sustainable future.

In a myriad of ways, HB 6 also serves as a regrettable microcosm of what communities of color throughout Ohio continue to endure on a regular basis."

--Jacquie Gillon, Guest Columnist for cleveland.com

Link to full article.


Ohio lawmakers move House Bill 6 reform bill ahead, but its future remains murky

Dec 16, 2020 7:50 PM

"The House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight, set up to study what to do about HB6, waved forward House Bill 798, which would delay the bailout of two Northern Ohio nuclear plants by one year. Under HB6, from 2021 until 2027, every Ohio electricity customer will have to pay a new monthly surcharge that ranges from 85 cents for residential customers to $2,400 for large industrial plants.

HB798 would impose stricter auditing provisions on Energy Harbor, the plants’ owner, to ensure it actually needs the money. In addition, it would eliminate some other provisions that critics say are meant to benefit FirstEnergy Corp., the company alleged to have provided $60 million toward the bribery scheme.
Before moving HB798 forward, the committee removed the “emergency clause” from the bill, meaning if Gov. Mike DeWine signed it into law, it wouldn’t take effect for 90 days. As the nuclear bailout fee is set to begin Jan. 1, that means there would be a period of several weeks when the fee is collected before the bill takes effect and stops it for a year.

Recognizing that, the committee also added a provision providing for immediate refunds of whatever fees are collected before the bill took effect."

— Jeremy Pelzer, Cleveland.com

read the full article


Despite scandal, DeWine says he takes corruption seriously

Dec 14, 2020 9:23 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio--"Despite a massive bribery scandal related to a lobbying effort involving his appointees and members of his administration, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says his administration takes corruption seriously.

'We always take things seriously,' he said.

DeWine made those comments last Tuesday, less than three weeks after his appointee to chair the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio resigned. The commissioner, Sam Randazzo, left the post after the FBI raided his house and the utility at the center of the scandal, FirstEnergy, disclosed that it gave $4 million to a regulatory official shortly before he assumed his post in early 2019."

--Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal

Read more.


Ohio Citizen Action announces support for Ellis Jacobs for PUCO Commissioner

Dec 14, 2020 3:55 PM

Ohio Citizen Action and our members are proud to support Ellis Jacobs in his application to replace Sam Randazzo on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Jacobs brings decades of experience as an attorney committed to public interest work, including service with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality and providing community support on a variety of environmental, housing, health and utility cases. As a native Daytonian, he has spearheaded neighborhood campaigns to protect the region from potential air and chemical pollution sources. Jacobs is also a member of the Universal Service Administrative Company board of directors, helping to administer telephone universal service funds nationally. 

“In addition to his extensive resume, Jacobs would bring to the PUCO a perspective that has been lacking in recent years—a focus on protecting the consumer rather than protecting the profits of Ohio utilities,” said Rachael Belz, Executive Director of Ohio Citizen Action. “His career-long dedication to increasing equity, fairness, and access to services at the community level would offer a unique benefit to the Commission at a time when corruption has been winning the day.”

Jacobs and his family live in Yellow Springs, and he has served as both a member and president of the Ohio Citizen Action board.

- press release, Rachael Belz, executive director, Ohio Citizen Action



Here’s a revolutionary idea - utility regulators should represent all Ohioans, not just the utilities: editorial

Dec 13, 2020 12:03 PM

cleveland’s Logo

 

CLEVELAND--"One lesson from the House Bill 6 scandal at the Ohio Statehouse is already evident: The General Assembly must end the chokehold that utilities have on state energy policy and state utility regulation. That needs to start with reforming how Public Utilities Commission of Ohio members are selected and how the PUCO operates."

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

Link to full article.


Governor was warned of would-be regulator's ties to utility

Dec 10, 2020 9:36 PM

"This undated photo provided by the Ohio Governor's Office shows Sam Randazzo, of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine disregarded warnings from consumer and environmental advocates and a last-minute plea from Republican insiders in selecting the powerful top Ohio utility regulator now under legal and financial scrutiny. Randazzo, who DeWine picked to lead the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, had deep ties with the state's largest electric utility and proven hostility to wind and solar power development that made him unsuitable for the role, critics warned. Nearly two years later, after an FBI search of Randazzo's home and revelations the utility, FirstEnergy Corp., paid him millions for consulting, DeWine seems unfazed by the selection. (Courtesy of Ohio Governor's Office via AP, File)"

COLUMBUS — "Gov. Mike DeWine disregarded cries of alarm in early 2019 from consumer and environmental advocates, concerns echoed in a previously undisclosed last-minute plea from GOP insiders, when he was selecting the state’s top utility regulator — a man now under scrutiny as a wide-ranging bribery and corruption investigation roils Ohio.

Nearly two years later, the Republican governor continues to defend his choice of Samuel Randazzo as the powerful chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and many of those early critics insist it was a mistake to disregard their concerns.

'We understood that he had worked for manufacturing companies; we also understood that he had done work for FirstEnergy,' DeWine said this week in an interview with Associated Press reporters. 'Those were all things that we knew. He was picked because of his expertise and vast knowledge in this area. So that’s pretty much what we knew, so there was no secret.'

Randazzo, 71, had deep business ties with the state’s largest electric utility and had long been hostile to the development of wind and solar power, making him unsuitable for the role, critics warned early on."

— Mark Gillipsie and Julie Carr Smyth, AP News

read the full article