Critics fear investors’ push for profits could thwart other FirstEnergy priorities

FirstEnergy news raises questions about grid resiliency and clean energy approaches to cope with climate change. A notorious investor’s plan to acquire a significant stake in FirstEnergy voting shares has critics worried that pressure to turn quick profits could undercut the company’s duties to ratepayers and need to invest in a cleaner and more resilient grid. In its Feb. 18 earnings call, FirstEnergy revealed it had received notice of Icahn Capital’s intent to acquire between $184 million and $920 million in voting securities. The fund would have a minority voting interest, but it might be enough to sway changes in its board of directors, company management and more.

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’s evasive legal responses don’t say what happened after funds from ratepayers went into a shared pool

Statements could support broad scope for PUCO-ordered audit

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. FirstEnergy’s legal papers in a regulatory case state it can’t categorically deny that money from Ohio ratepayers was spent for activities related to the state’s nuclear and coal bailout law. The limited comments could support a broad scope for an independent audit ordered by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio earlier this month. The PUCO may come under increased scrutiny in the wake of FBI agents’ Nov.

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.

Campaign contributions pay off for Ohio utilities and coal interests

Nuclear and coal bailout is the latest in a line of favorable policy actions that shield noncompetitive plants from competition. Utility, nuclear and coal interests are big players in Ohio politics, giving about $3 million to Ohio political campaigns in 2018, according to data from the National Institute on Money in Politics. The industry interests have long been active politically. But just as competitive markets began coming into their own around 2010, the pattern of campaign contributions also shifted. Donations to Ohio campaigns from the utility, nuclear and coal industries in 2010 were more than double the amount for 2008.