Special counsel hired to help PUCO with document requests has multiple ties to HB 6 push

Links include an HB 6 co-sponsor, a lobbyist for FirstEnergy’s former subsidiary, and a former partner who served as an officer for Generation Now

This article is provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism, in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join the free mailing lists for Eye on Ohio or the Energy News Network, as this helps provide more public service reporting. An outside law firm working with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on responses to federal subpoenas and public records requests has multiple ties to the law at the heart of the state’s ongoing corruption scandal. The firm, Dinsmore & Shohl, is headquartered in Cincinnati and has offices in 30 cities across the United States. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office retained the firm as special counsel for the PUCO after it received the first of two federal subpoenas in the spring of 2021 relating to House Bill 6.

Freeze of regulator’s HB 6 cases could further harm Ohio consumers

A federal prosecutor’s move to stay PUCO cases would thwart investigations behind FirstEnergy’s spending and other matters related to Ohio’s ongoing House Bill 6 corruption scandal. This article is provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism, in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join the free mailing lists for Eye on Ohio or the Energy News Network, as this helps provide more public service reporting. On Tuesday, a federal prosecutor asked to shut down four Ohio regulatory cases relating to Ohio’s House Bill 6 scandal for at least six months. If granted, the request by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker of the Southern District of Ohio will further block Ohioans’ ability to learn more about the alleged corruption behind the state’s 2019 nuclear and coal bailout law. 

FirstEnergy admitted last year that it paid nearly $60 million and bribed two Ohio public officials in connection with HB 6, including the former speaker of the Ohio House and a former head of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Ohio Civil Rights Commission finds probable cause of disability discrimination in Dublin case

Mysterious arson remains unsolved

This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in conjunction with WOSU 89.7 NPR News. Please join Eye on Ohio's free mailing list or download the WOSU Public Media Mobile app as this helps provide more public service reporting to the community. This week the Ohio Civil Rights Commission released a letter of determination finding probable cause of disability discrimination after a Dublin couple was unable to open an assisted living facility in the area. The Ohio Civil Rights Commission says it is “probable” that the city of Dublin broke state law by discriminating against the elderly with recent zoning changes. The new city law followed a suspicious fire that broke out amid a months-long neighborhood dispute.

Regulators’ foot-dragging on public records hides the full story behind Ohio’s utility corruption scandal

Documents produced at the end of July shed light on Sam Randazzo’s role at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. But more documents before and after his tenure still haven’t been produced. This article is provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism, in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join the free mailing lists for Eye on Ohio or the Energy News Network, as this helps provide more public service reporting. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine knew critics questioned whether the former FirstEnergy nuclear plants really needed House Bill 6’s $1.1 billion bailout.

Giving back? Charities laud Columbia Gas in $212 million rate hike case

Charity groups often depend on utilities for funds to do good works, but rate hikes by those utilities can impose more stress on low-income people the nonprofit groups serve. This article is provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism, in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join the free mailing lists for Eye on Ohioor the Energy News Network, as this helps provide more public service reporting. Central Ohio’s LifeCare Alliance is a lifeline for tens of thousands of seniors and medically challenged residents. The Columbus-based charity delivers meals and healthcare to people who need help staying in their homes due to age or other issues.

Former PUCO chair texted he knew FirstEnergy charge was likely unlawful, but company would keep money anyway

Texts about the $456 million charge may further undermine public confidence in the PUCO. This article is provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join the free mailing lists for Eye on Ohio or the Energy News Network, as this helps provide more public service reporting. Newly disclosed texts from a former head of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio suggest he knew a grid modernization charge that cost ratepayers nearly half a billion dollars was “likely to be found illegal and could not be refunded.”

Former PUCO Chair Asim Haque and former FirstEnergy Vice President Michael Dowling exchanged text messages on the same day the Supreme Court of Ohio held the charge unlawful. Challengers in the case had argued that the commission’s order imposing the charge basically had no strings attached to make FirstEnergy take any specific actions to modernize the grid.

A tale of two cities’ water bills: how one place was able to reduce mounting utility costs for low-income households and how Ohio may follow suit

If Kevina Chapolini-Renwrick couldn’t pay the $15,000 water bill, she’d lose her home. The South Philadelphia resident began to panic when she saw the city had tacked a notice on her door threatening her with legal action, back in the summer of 2021. Her husband had inherited the property from his parents in 2007, and with it, their unpaid water bill debt. Tears traced the retired social worker’s cheeks as she recalled the memories tied to the simple rowhouse with beige siding, snugly tucked between its neighbors on a peaceful side street in the Newbold neighborhood. Chapolini-Renwrick had lived in this neighborhood her entire life.