Recent news

FirstEnergy admitted to funding Generation Now in federal court

Mar 16, 2021 3:47 PM

Inch by inch, Ohio Citizen, the truth is revealed.

FirstEnergy admits that it is "Company A"

The Energy and Policy Institute announced on Friday that FirstEnergy admitted in federal court that it funded Generation Now, effectively confirming that it is "Company A" in the federal criminal case against former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.

This disclosure was in response to a class action RICO lawsuit filed by Ohio ratepayers.

The first time we saw this amazing graphic by The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, we thought it looked like a web, but an editorial by the Plain Dealer this Sunday brought the realization - they're tentacles.

The tentacles binding Gov. Mike DeWine to FirstEnergy run deep 

The Plain Dealer editorial board wrote, "the facts in this tangle of alleged pay to play, dark-money influence, political arm-twisting and a pipeline of utility favors extending from FirstEnergy’s Akron headquarters right into the heart of Ohio governance and regulation can’t be ignored."

The tentacles reach right into the Governor's residence. Public records obtained by the Associated Press show that Sam Randazzo, PUCO chair, met with Larry Householder and Governor Mike Dewine in April 2019. They met at Dewine’s residence for an “energy discussion” and House Bill 6 was introduced the very next day.

Eight months after FBI arrest legislators plan to debate whether Householder should remain in office

The House likely has the 66 votes needed to expel Householder, according to State Rep. Mark Frazier, R-Newark. 

House Republicans have 64 members – 63 if you take Householder out of the equation – which means at least three Democrats need to vote for expulsion. A spokesman for House Democrats said all 35 members would vote yes, so Republicans only need to bring 31 votes. We will be sure to let you know what happens.

Twin Ohio bills could thwart future solar and wind development

Mar 15, 2021 5:30 PM

OHIO –– "Senate Bill 52 and House Bill 118 expand on themes from a failed 2019 bill that would have let 8% of voters in an area demand a referendum after Ohio Power Siting Board approval of wind farm projects, thus delaying or effectively cancelling the projects.

'It’s HB 401 all over again, but now solar is included,' said Neil Waggoner, Ohio representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. 'It’s another attempt to really slow down or stop the investment in and transition to renewable energy in the state.'

The new bills would apply to solar and wind farms but not nuclear power plants or any kind of fossil fuel projects. Developers would have to give 30 days’ prior notice to local governments before filing with the power siting board for any new wind or solar project. The bills also would apply to most modifications, such as changes to spacing or height."

–– Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network 

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FirstEnergy pumped $1M into backing DeWine

Mar 06, 2021 3:58 PM

Turns out we were right all along about the culture of corruption that has long existed at utility-giant FirstEnergy Corporation. They have been up to no good.

The Dayton Daily News reported last night that FirstEnergy and FirstEnergy Solutions donated more than $1 million to dark money nonprofit groups and political campaigns since 2017 to help elect Governor Mike DeWine. 

FirstEnergy was able to contribute $500K to help elect Mike DeWine, and nearly $2 million to Larry Householder’s dark money group but needed a bailout from Ohio consumers?

This goes even deeper than campaign contributions

You may remember that back in November 2020, a FirstEnergy disclosure showed that a $4 million payment was made to an unnamed individual who would become a high-ranking state regulator, supposedly to end a longstanding consulting agreement. In the same week, former Public Utilities Commission Chairman Sam Randazzo’s home was raided by the FBI, and he resigned his position with the PUCO.

As details from that FirstEnergy filing continue to come to light, we now see that the individual acted at the request or for the benefit of FirstEnergy as a consequence of receiving such payment.  Emails obtained by the FBI also show that Randazzo helped write House Bill 6 while leading the PUCO.

He was working on legislation that would have benefited FirstEnergy to the tune of $1 billion while serving as the state’s top utility regulator

The time has come to end the culture of corruption in Ohio perpetuated by big utilities that flex their political muscle and hand-pick their own regulators.

Work begins on controversial Hamilton County Duke Energy pipeline

Mar 06, 2021 11:53 AM

CINCINNATI –– "Once completed, the pipeline will span 13 miles from Golf Manor to Sycamore Township's northern annex adjacent to Sharonville. The pipeline will also run through neighborhoods in Cincinnati, Amberley Village, Evendale, Blue Ash, Reading and Sharonville.

Work began Monday at the pipeline's northern terminus after years of pushback from neighbors who live along the route, as well as from county leaders. In 2016, then-Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune called the pipeline a bad idea.

'They're bad for Hamilton County. They're bad for the neighborhoods they run through. They're bad for Duke (Energy),' he said."

–– Mariel Carbone, WCPO Cincinnati

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Mailbag: A timeline of Speaker Cupp’s inaction on removing Householder from office

Mar 02, 2021 8:02 PM

Columbus (OCJ) ––

"Feb. 10, 2021:

Local elected officials from Householder’s district write a letter to Cupp asking that Householder be removed from office. The letter is signed by Coshocton County officials from both political parties, The Coshocton Tribune reports.

'These are very serious allegations that cast a shadow on the institution of the House and Representative Householder’s integrity. The United States Constitution guarantees citizens a fair trial and a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. This is a key pillar of our judicial system,” the letter states. “That said, holding an elective office is not a right, it is a privilege and a sacred trust. The State of Ohio deserves to proceed with the work of the people and it is clear to us that Representative Householder cannot effectively serve the interests of Coshocton County while the criminal charges are ongoing.'"

–– Tyler Buchanan, Ohio Capital Journal

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It shouldn’t take a New York pension fund to force FirstEnergy political spending more into the open

Mar 02, 2021 7:46 PM

Cleveland –– 

"One of the country’s largest pension funds just did what Ohio regulators and lawmakers haven’t managed to do -- force Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. to open up more of its political spending to public scrutiny.

The disclosures -- to be made twice annually on the FirstEnergy website until May 2024, and to be revisited at that time -- don’t include lobbying expenditures. It’s unclear to what extent they’ll cover dark-money spending.

Full transparency is still up to Ohioans to demand -- and Ohio lawmakers to deliver.

Among reforms needed: required disclosure of the recipients of dark-money contributions and tight lobbying transparency requirements, as well.

Also needed is a change in the multiplicity of ways that utilities now can grease the political wheels in Ohio. Such spending has helped ensure the primacy of favored electric utilities like FirstEnergy, both in Ohio law and policy -- and doomed solar and wind energy producers to struggle against political headwinds if they wanted to operate in Ohio.

No more.

All Ohioans deserve far more transparency than they’re getting on corporate and utility spending for political causes, candidates and lobbying."

–– Editorial Board, and The Plain Dealer

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Critics take aim at HB 6 coal subsidies

Mar 02, 2021 7:37 PM

COLUMBUS (OCJ) –– "Last summer, federal authorities arrested then-House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, and four associates in connection with the effort to pass HB 6. U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers said it was  'likely the largest bribery and money-laundering scheme ever in the state of Ohio.'

Despite outrage over the scandal, the Republican-controlled legislature last year didn’t manage to send a repeal of HB 6 to Gov. Mike DeWine.

This year, however, efforts to repeal the nuclear bailout and FirstEnergy’s revenue guarantees appear to have momentum. One has passed out of committee and the other has passed the Senate.

But the three bills aimed at getting rid of the coal subsidies? Not so much. Each has been assigned to a committee, but none has had a hearing."

–– Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal (OCJ)

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DeWine aide’s organization was link to now-guilty dark money group

Mar 02, 2021 7:30 PM


"Dan McCarthy, a top aide to Gov. Mike DeWine, hasn’t explained what he thought the point was of the millions funneling through a dark money group he founded and into another at the heart of a huge corruption scandal that has rocked Ohio. He did say, however, that he had no reason to believe it was anything improper.

But the fact that the other dark money group has now pleaded guilty to its role in the corrupt scheme raises questions about what McCarthy did believe the purpose was, if not to conceal the fact that an Ohio utility was financing a scheme to make ratepayers bail out two nuclear reactors it began spinning off a year earlier."

–– Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal (OCJ)

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The guilty pleas are piling up, but Householder remains

Feb 26, 2021 4:27 PM

When lobbying efforts failed to produce subsidies, FirstEnergy resorted to bribery.

When citizens tried to organize a referendum to repeal House Bill 6, FirstEnergy indulged in dirty tactics.

The House Bill 6 scandal continues to unravel, Ohio Citizen :

FirstEnergy admits it used customer money to pass House Bill 6

It turns out that we were paying for the corruption all along. FirstEnergy officials admitted last week that ratepayers paid for political & lobbying efforts, as first reported by @clevelanddotcom. FirstEnergy has so far provided few answers regarding how much customer money was involved, and when/how that money will be refunded to customers.

Coshocton leaders call for Householder removal

All three Coshocton County commissioners as well as several county Republican Party committee members are among those who signed a letter asking House Speaker Bob Cupp to immediately replace Larry Householder as their state representative.

They wrote, "holding an elective office is not a right, it is a privilege and a sacred trust. The State of Ohio deserves to proceed with the work of the people and it is clear to us that Representative Householder cannot effectively serve the interests of Coshocton County while the criminal charges are ongoing.”

A timeline of Speaker Cupp’s inaction on removing Householder from office

Tyler Buchanan from the Ohio Capital Journal put together a timeline showing all of Speaker Cupp’s statements regarding Householder in context with what has happened. 

When asked by a reporter on Thursday whether House Republicans have finally decided whether to expel Householder, Speaker Cupp replied,"No update from last week or the week before or the week before."

DeWine defends top aide embroiled in HB6 scandal

Responding to a press question about FirstEnergy and his top aide Dan McCarthy, Mike DeWine said "I have faith in his integrity."

The feds haven’t accused DeWine’s aide, Legislative Affairs Director Dan McCarthy of wrongdoing, but they refer to his dark-money group in an affidavit supporting Householder’s arrest as an “Energy Pass-Through.”

When he was still a lobbyist for FirstEnergy,McCarthy started a dark money group - Partners For Progress - that formed a link in the money chain between FirstEnergy, Generation Now and the effort to pass HB6.

The coal subsidies - another reason to repeal HB6

The Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) coal subsidies are one of the worst aspects of HB6, yet repealing the OVEC provisions is one of the least talked about aspects as the legislature moves forward on piecemeal repeal.

House Bill 6 provides $233,000 a day in subsidies to prop up two 66-year-old coal plants — the Kyger Creek Plant in Cheshire, Ohio, and the Clifty Creek Plant in Madison, Indiana.
Almost $100 million has been collected for the effort so far. 

There are a number of bills moving in the legislature that will repeal parts of House Bill 6, but we continue to advocate for full clean repeal of the entire bill. 

Cincinnati Paves the Way for Equitable, Climate-Forward City Planning

Feb 19, 2021 4:13 PM

CINCINNATI -- "Cincinnati, Ohio, is a midsize city that has attracted attention for its outsized climate action. In early 2020, Cincinnati contracted the nation’s largest municipal solar farm as part of its plan to convert the city government’s power usage to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. The 100 percent renewable energy goal is just one of 80 total recommendations in the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan, which aims to reduce city carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 and implement a suite of other projects in the fields of environmental sustainability, environmental justice, and climate resilience. The plan, the third of its kind, acts as the city’s roadmap for climate and environmental action.

According to Carla Walker, Climate Advisor for the City of Cincinnati, the first Green Cincinnati Plan was born out of Cincinnati’s engagement with the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2008. The first plan focused primarily on carbon reduction and sustainability; the second, published in 2013, incorporated climate resilience; and the third and current plan has deepened its engagement with issues of equity and justice.

Beyond this expansion of focus areas, Oliver Kroner, the Sustainability Coordinator for the city's Office of Environment and Sustainability, says the plan has benefited from major advances in science, policy, and technology over the last 10 years. The city has also worked to create a more robust community engagement process, which is central to the creation of the plans.

...The city has made strides to center equity for underserved communities in its community engagement process. Savannah Sullivan, Climate and Community Resilience Analyst at OES, says the city is working on “centering equity within the work, not only with outcomes but also with processes.” She cited work with Groundwork USA on the city’s Climate Safe Neighborhoods project, which analyzes the relationship between historical patterns of urban racial segregation and climate risk to inform the development of participatory resilience plans in at-risk communities."

-- Joesph Glandorf, Environmental and Energy Study Institute

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