Recent news

My Generation is the Future

Oct 08, 2020 12:27 PM

My first time voting was in the 2016 presidential election and I was 18 years old. I remember my mom taking me to the polls and voting alongside me. I also remember questioning why I was the youngest person in the building, maybe it was just a coincidence. However, after seeing the turn-out for 18-25 year olds, I questioned why more young people did not vote. My generation is the future of our country and taking politics seriously and educating yourself on the issue is of utmost importance. As I got older, I continually had discussions with friends and family  about politics, but when I asked them if they voted, the response was almost always no. Our government works best when all the people participate and in college, I started to join groups that encouraged young voters to register to vote and get to the polls. 
When I heard about the shortage of poll workers this year, due to the pandemic, there was no question, I had to do my civil duty and volunteer. For me, working at the polls is not only a great opportunity, but an honor. I know I will have a positive impact on having a fair election and keeping the most vulnerable people in my community safe. I hope to set an example for other 18-25 year olds by working at the polls this year by simply showing up and helping my community in this unprecedented time. I am excited to see my fellow Geauga County voters of all ages cast their vote on November 3rd! 
Sophie Kocheff 
Senior Field Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action

Repeal HB6 commentary

Oct 07, 2020 11:24 AM

Tell House special committee before Nov. 3 to repeal HB 6

"Stalling repeal of House Bill 6, assuming it ever is repealed, might be the House’s most brazen defiance of public opinion beyond House and Senate inaction on Ohio school funding (which the Ohio Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional more than 23 years ago). Yet any leverage that Ohio voters might have to get HB 6 repealed will dwindle after Election Day — 30 days from today. Only a cynic would suggest that the House committee’s talkathon aims to keep HB 6 alive past Election Day.

In fairness, some members of the special House committee voted against HB 6 in 2019. And those committee members appear to oppose  HB 6 now.

But committee action requires a committee vote. Permitting votes is up to the committee’s chair. In turn, the chair and the committee’s other Republicans answer to House Speaker Robert Cupp, a Lima Republican whom fellow House Republicans chose to replace Householder after they’d removed Householder from the speakership."

-- editorial, Columbus Dispatch

Ohio ratepayers deserve a break, not an increase

"What any Capitol insider can see clearly is that Republicans are actually just hoping to run out the clock. They want to make the public think they’re moving the repeal process along, when really they’re doing everything in their power to prevent a HB 6 repeal from coming to a vote.

...As a member of the unnecessary Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight, created solely to stall the process of repeal, I have done what I can as a member of the Minority Caucus to repeal this problematic bill. Each time this group meets (for invitation-only meetings where the public is not invited to testify), a member of our caucus has made a motion to discharge the bill from committee. Each time, the Republicans rule our motion to be out of order. (Spoiler: it is not)

Enough is enough. Repeal HB 6. Ratepayers have enough to worry about right now; increasing utility bills on top of everything else is unfair."

-- Rep. Sedrick Denson, Opinion contributor,

If GOP lawmakers can’t find the moxie to repeal HB 6, it could cost Ohioans plenty

"... HB 6 is still Ohio law, thanks to inaction by the Republican-run Ohio House of Representatives. That’s the House once led by Republican Larry Householder, a Republican from Perry County’s Glenford. In July, a federal grand jury indicted Householder and four others on federal racketeering charges, alleging that a $60 million “money laundering scheme” helped pass HB 6. (Householder and the others are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.)

The Ohio House’s Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight has been talking about repealing HB 6. And talking. And talking more. Now, though, the panel’s gone home, probably till after Nov. 3′s general election....

If Ohio consumers want HB 6 repealed, they should, before Election Day, tell members of the select House committee. Reason for the timing: If HB 6 survives beyond Election Day, there’s a very good chance it’ll never be repealed.

And if the bailout isn’t repealed, you’ll need to keep your checkbook handy: Somebody or something allegedly spent $60 million to get Ohio’s General Assembly to pass HB 6. And he, she or it expects a return on that investment."

-- Thomas Suddes, opinion,

Renew the renewables

"Lawmakers in the state House and state Senate now must wrangle with the problem of what to do about HB6. A handful of bills to repeal it outright have been introduced, but lawmakers have not demonstrated any urgency to pass them. Leaders of both houses should get serious about replacing HB6, not only to remove the dark cloud of its role in Ohio’s biggest corruption scandal but also because the General Assembly must revisit HB6’s woeful renewable energy element.

Ohio’s energy policy should encourage more use of renewable energy for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is to improve the state’s environment. But green energy also means jobs in Ohio, particularly for the Toledo region where the solar industry has been growing for years.

There are plenty of reasons to wipe away HB6 and replace it with something better. A smart and reasonable renewable energy plan is at the top of the list."

-- editorial, Toledo Blade


Judge won't block donations from FirstEnergy to Ohio politicians, fees to nuclear plants

Oct 02, 2020 10:41 AM

COLUMBUS – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost can’t block FirstEnergy and affiliated companies from donating money to lawmakers as they consider repeal of a $1.3 billion bailout of two nuclear plants, a Franklin County judge ruled Friday morning.

The decision means that fees on Ohioans' electric bills starting in January could still be sent to Energy Harbor, which owns two nuclear plants in northern Ohio. State lawmakers are still weighing whether to repeal the subsidies and whether the nuclear company needs the money.

Yost had asked Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Chris Brown to prohibit FirstEnergy Corp., Energy Harbor and several others from donating to politicians or lobbying them as they consider repealing House Bill 6.

Yost also wanted to limit the campaign spending of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, who is accused of orchestrating a scheme to pass the bailout. He has pleaded not guilty in federal court and no one from FirstEnergy has been charged with a crime."

-- Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer

link to full article

Energy Harbor, FirstEnergy officials should testify before Ohio lawmakers about nuclear plants' profitability

Oct 01, 2020 2:03 PM

COLUMBUS — "Attorney General Dave Yost is urging state lawmakers to have Energy Harbor and FirstEnergy Corp. representatives testify before legislative committees and disclose whether two nuclear power plants set to receive a $1.3 billion ratepayer bailout actually need the money.

In a letter to state lawmakers serving on Ohio House and Senate committees studying what, if anything, to do about the scandal-ridden bailout law, House Bill 6, Yost stated the corporations 'owe it to the legislature and the public to appear before the committees and provide a detailed financial accounting of their operations.'

...Yost’s letter comes as Energy Harbor is again refusing to publicly disclose financial data showing whether its Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants along Lake Erie are profitable or not."

— Jeremy Pelzer,

Read more

Ohio Citizen Action endorses Issue 1

Sep 29, 2020 4:20 PM

COLUMBUS -- At a press conference today, Ohio environmental experts and advocates launched the YES on Columbus Community Choice Aggregation Campaign (Issue 1). Ohio Citizen Action enthusiastically endorses Issue 1 because of both its near and long-term benefits for Columbus area residents, businesses, jobs and the environment. The issue has gained the endorsement of 10 major environmental group and we urge Columbus voters to pass Issue 1 in November.

“Our members are happy to see Columbus get on the aggregation bandwagon,” said Rachael Belz, executive director, Ohio Citizen Action. “OCA strongly supports passage of Issue 1 because it just makes sense: affordability for consumers and job creation for Columbus that also results in cleaner air and water. This will be the largest aggregation program in the Midwest, showing other major cities how good policy is done with community support. It’s time to pass Issue 1!”

For even more information on Issue 1:

Energy Harbor still won’t say whether its nuclear plants are profitable

Sep 28, 2020 10:50 AM

COLUMBUS — "State lawmakers are looking at whether to keep in place a $1.3 billion public bailout for the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants along Lake Erie, a law that federal authorities say was corruptly enacted.

But throughout the debate, there’s still a glaring problem: the owner of the nuclear plants refuses to disclose whether they are profitable or not. And so far, there’s been no attempt by state lawmakers to compel the company to release its numbers before the bailout takes effect.

During last year’s debate over whether to pass the bailout as part of House Bill 6, Energy Harbor – then known as FirstEnergy Solutions – asserted it needed public subsidies or it would close the plants. But the company wouldn’t open its books to lawmakers or the public to prove that it actually needed the money, leading legislators to rely on estimates, industry averages and company officials' word."

-- Jeremy Pelzer,

link to full article

Lawmakers clash on repeal of bailout bill as deadline looms

Sep 23, 2020 11:01 AM

COLUMBUS — "If the House does not repeal the law by Oct. 1, a fee will be added to every electricity bill in the state starting Jan. 1 — directing over $150 million a year, through 2026, to the nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo.

While FirstEnergy Corp., whose former subsidiaries owned the plants, have denied wrongdoing and have not been criminally charged, federal investigators say the company secretly funneled millions to secure the $1 billion legislative bailout for the two unprofitable nuclear plants then operated by an independently controlled subsidiary called FirstEnergy Solutions.

The other option is an emergency House vote before the end of the year. As of this week, 58 of 99 House members have signed on to cosponsor bills that would repeal House Bill 6.

Republican Rep. Laura Lanese, who introduced one of the repeal bills days after the federal affidavit was released, said she would vote in favor of an emergency ruling in order to 'regain the trust of Ohioans.'"

— Farnoush Amiri, Associated Press

Plans for Lake Erie wind farm clear a major hurdle

Sep 21, 2020 11:35 AM

COLUMBUS — " Plans to build the nation’s first freshwater wind farm in Lake Erie northeast of Cleveland took a major – and unexpected – step forward Thursday, as state regulators reversed their previous decision to limit the nighttime operation of the proposed wind turbines.

But despite the Ohio Power Siting Board’s decision, there are still details that need to be worked out regarding how to mitigate the harm to animals from Icebreaker Wind, a $126 million, 20.7-megawatt pilot project that has been in the works for more than a decade.

During a virtual meeting that involved a level of discussion and debate unusual for the Power Siting Board, board members unanimously voted to rescind part of an order they issued last May that approved construction of the wind turbines only if the turbine blades didn’t move at night between March 1 and Nov. 1, on the grounds that they would harm bats and birds.

Such a limit would be a “poison pill” that would make the project financially infeasible, according to Dave Karpinski, president of Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., the non-profit developer of the wind farm."

-- Jeremy Pelzer,

link to article

Ohio regulators launch probe into FirstEnergy's political and charitable contributions

Sep 18, 2020 10:32 AM

COLUMBUS - "...Ohio lawmakers are grappling with how to repeal the bailout legislation, House Bill 6, and whether to replace it. New customer charges related to the legislation are set to begin the first of the year. Legislative hearings have already begun on competing bills with the hope that new legislation might be approved before the Nov. 3 elections.

The outlook for the bailout to survive remains sketchy as lawmakers, already nervous over public reaction to the revelations made by federal prosecutors, have learned that a proposal by regional grid operator PJM would, in effect, nullify the impact of any state subsidies to a power plant by taking them into account when setting the minimum price acceptable from them in future capacity market auctions.

Veteran utility lawyer, Samuel Randazzo, now the chairman of the PUCO, deflected questions during a legislative hearing this week from Democratic lawmakers wanting to know why the PUCO had to be prodded by the state's consumer advocate to launch its own investigation."

-- John Funk, Utility Dive

read the full article

FirstEnergy PAC doled out to Ohio politicians just before Householder arrest

Sep 16, 2020 2:35 PM

COLUMBUS -- "The 2020 primary was over. The $1.3 billion bailout of two Ohio nuclear plants was already law. Yet, in the weeks before then-House Speaker Larry Householder’s arrest, the energy company at the center of it all donated $158,000 to Ohio politicians.

In the days before Householder’s arrest, the PAC donated $158,000 to state lawmakers and two GOP Ohio Supreme Court justices: Judith French and Sharon Kennedy.

What’s unusual about these donations is the timing. House Bill 6 had been settled law for months. The 2020 primary finished in late April and the general election was months away.

Lawmakers in the Ohio House hadn’t met since June 11 and the Senate wasn’t talking about energy policy. The PAC had no history of large donations during July."

-- Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer

read the full article