Top regulator’s exit raises questions about utility and fossil fuel influence

Critics question whether the former Ohio utility commission chair should have recused himself more often to avoid any appearance of bias. This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join our free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy New Network as this helps us provide more public service reporting. Concerns about the outsized influence of utility and fossil fuel interests have resurfaced as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio begins steps to name a new commissioner after the sudden exit of Chair Sam Randazzo.  

Randazzo resigned on Nov. 20 after an FBI team had searched his home and FirstEnergy released a mandatory quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

FirstEnergy fights against disclosing more details about alleged HB 6 bribery cases

Case filings and delay of possible nuclear bailout combine to block Ohioans from learning more before voting. This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join our free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy New Network as this helps us provide more public service reporting. var divElement = document.getElementById('viz1604006918434'); var vizElement = divElement.getElementsByTagName('object')[0]; if ( divElement.offsetWidth > 800 ) { vizElement.style.width='100%';vizElement.style.height='1007px';} else if ( divElement.offsetWidth > 500 ) { vizElement.style.width='100%';vizElement.style.height='971px';} else { vizElement.style.width='100%';vizElement.style.height='427px';} var scriptElement = document.createElement('script'); scriptElement.src = 'https://public.tableau.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js'; vizElement.parentNode.insertBefore(scriptElement, vizElement);

Consumer advocates, industry organizations and environmental groups continue efforts to learn more about claims that FirstEnergy and current or former subsidiaries may have financed an alleged $60-million conspiracy to make sure Ohio’s nuclear bailout bill became law and withstood a referendum attempt. Yet opposition by FirstEnergy in two regulatory cases and in state court has combined with the legislative recess to prevent those groups and voters from learning more before Election Day.

Latest challenge raises question of reopening FirstEnergy Solutions’ bankruptcy ruling

Questions about the transparency of FirstEnergy, Energy Harbor and others are central to proceedings in multiple cases. 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 our free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy New Network as this helps us provide more public service reporting. Environmental groups have filed a motion asking a federal appeals court to tell FirstEnergy Solutions’ bankruptcy court judge to take action in light of the alleged corruption cases in federal and state court. The Environmental Law & Policy Center, Environmental Defense Fund, Ohio Citizen Action, and the Ohio Environmental Council want the judge to consider suspending execution of the reorganization plan that was confirmed earlier this year.

Ohio regulators decline to force FirstEnergy to hire an independent auditor

The order agrees that spending should be open to review but first requires the company to review itself. This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join our free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy New Network as this helps us provide more public service reporting. Regulators are requiring FirstEnergy to show that its Ohio utility ratepayers didn’t foot the bill, “directly or indirectly,” for political or charitable spending in support of the state’s nuclear and coal bailout bill. Yet that order is much more lenient than the state’s official consumer advocate had sought.

Murray Energy’s limited disclosure in Ohio conspiracy case leaves big questions unanswered

The for-profit corporate structure of Hardworking Ohioans, Inc. and other groups precludes transparency on how companies use money to influence energy policy

This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism, in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Help us provide more public service reporting by joining our free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy News Network. While an Ohio-based coal company has contributed $100,000 to an organization that may have been involved in an alleged bribery operation to pass a power plant bailout law last year, company officials said in a bankruptcy filing that they don’t know how the money was spent. A bankruptcy court ruled last week that Murray Energy can move ahead to seek approval of its reorganization plan, subject to a representation that its officers and directors have no knowledge about how money it gave to a dark money organization might have been used to promote the Ohio coal and nuclear bailout law at the heart of a federal conspiracy case. 

The ruling is a partial victory for environmental and citizen groups, who had objected to a more limited disclosure statement proposed by Murray Energy and its related debtors on Aug. 6.

HB 6 repeal would address only part of Ohio lawmakers’ recent actions to slow renewables

But a complete repeal is needed as a minimum to undo the bill’s gutting of the clean energy standards, advocates say. This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join our free mailing list or the mailing list for Energy News as this helps us provide more public service reporting. Both Republican and Democratic Ohio lawmakers are pushing to repeal the state’s nuclear bailout bill after this week’s release of a federal criminal complaint against House Speaker Larry Householder and others. Clean energy advocates say that would be a start, but more is needed to address eight years of lawmakers’ actions to slow the growth of renewables in the state.

Utilities, gas industry coordinate to oppose Ohio village’s clean energy goal

Emails obtained by a utility watchdog group reveal push by Dominion Energy and allies against a local resolution. Dominion Energy’s opposition to an Ohio village’s clean energy proposal appears to be part of a larger trend nationwide in which gas utilities are becoming more active at the local government level. Unlike other cases involving bans on new gas hook-ups, however, Bratenahl’s proposed resolution stated a general goal of achieving 100% clean energy, with no specific plan or enforcement provisions. The resolution would have set a goal of fully transitioning to clean energy for village-owned facilities by 2025 and for the general community of about 1,200 people by 2035. 

The proposal surfaced in November in the wake of state lawmakers gutting the state’s renewable energy standards last year. 

“In response, you have local communities stepping up to make commitments to 100% clean energy,” said Dave Anderson, policy and communications manager for the Energy and Policy Institute. Cleveland and Cincinnati had already committed in 2018 to move to 100% renewable energy for electricity.