Today, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Sam Randazzo resigned following a week that included an early morning FBI raid on his Columbus home and the disclosure by FirstEnergy that its CEO and others were fired for issuing a $4 million payment to an unnamed individual who was subsequently appointed to serve as a state public utility regulator.
Our organizations opposed the appointment of Randazzo from the beginning of the nomination process. His decades-long career as an anti-clean energy lobbyist and lawyer made him the wrong choice to oversee regulation of Ohio’s utilities and protect Ohio consumers.
Throughout the last several months, Randazzo claimed he had no ties to FirstEnergy, the corporation at the center of a $61 million bribery and corruption scandal that rocked Ohio in July. But bankruptcy filings told a different story, directly tying two companies owned by Randazzo, Sustainable Funding Alliance of Ohio and IEU Administration Company, to FirstEnergy Solutions.
Sam Randazzo’s ties to FirstEnergy influenced decision after decision at the PUCO and sabotaged the growth of Ohio’s clean energy future. He was out of touch with what Ohioans want and did a great disservice to our state’s energy consumers. We deserve better. We deserve an energy policy that creates Ohio jobs, builds our economy at a time when we need it most, and reduces the pollution that impacts health. We deserve an energy policy that is not clouded by corruption and lies. And we deserve a PUCO Chairman that is free from these utility ties.
As the Ohio legislature continues to stall in repealing House Bill 6, it is our sincere hope that the resignation and cloud of corruption surrounding former Chairman Randazzo will be the push they need to finally end this cycle of deceit and erosion of confidence. We urge them to adopt a full repeal of House Bill 6 now and demonstrate the leadership this state so desperately needs.
Rachael Belz, Director of Ohio Consumers Power Alliance
COLUMBUS, Ohio - "The chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, whose home was searched by the FBI on Monday, was a no-show at Wednesday's commission meeting.
Beyond roll call, there was no mention of Sam Randazzo during PUCO's 10-minute meeting held online as the commissioners quickly went through their agenda."
--Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch
Gov. Mike DeWine says no indication that Sam Randazzo is a target after PUCO chairman’s home searched by FBI
COLUMBUS - "Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday that although Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo’s home was searched by the FBI the day before, there’s no reason to believe Randazzo is under investigation by the FBI.
DeWine said Tuesday he had not spoken with Randazzo about the search at his home. He did not directly answer when asked if he felt comfortable with Randazzo continuing to serve in his position.
'We have no indication he’s under investigation or he’s the target of an investigation. We’ll wait until we find additional facts but we don’t have any indication of that at this point,' he said."
--Andrew Tobias, cleveland.com
COLUMBUS — "FBI agents executed a search warrant Monday morning at the German Village residence of PUCO chairman Sam Randazzo.
An FBI representative at the house, in the 600 block of South Grant Avenue, said agents were executing a federal search warrant for 'unauthorized legal activity.' A neighbor said agents arrived about 6 a.m."
--NBC4 staff, NBC4 WCMH-TV
The issue came up after FirstEnergy was linked to a bribery scandal involving former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder
COLUMBUS -- "The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) started the process Wednesday to audit FirstEnergy’s compliance with corporate separation laws and regulations.
The issue came up after FirstEnergy was linked to a bribery scandal involving former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.
Householder and others are accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes to move along a nuclear energy bailout bill known as House Bill 6. The bill funneled state funds to two failing nuclear power plants. Those plants were managed by FirstEnergy.
Auditors will be reviewing corporate separation during the time period leading up to the passage of House Bill 6 and subsequent referendum efforts.
The audit should be done by April 21, 2021."
-- Patty Coller, WKBN
In federal filing, FirstEnergy officials say criminal charges possible from federal House Bill 6 bribery probe
COLUMBUS -- "...a new company regulatory filing says “potential criminal or civil liabilities” related to myriad ongoing federal investigations and lawsuits into Ohio House Bill 6 are among the possible risks to the company’s reputation or financial condition. The company also said in a Friday filing it’s launched an internal process to strengthen its internal governance and compliance measures.
...Acting CEO Steve Strah, who took over after the company fired former CEO Chuck Jones last Thursday, said Monday the company won’t comment while the federal investigations are ongoing. He also said it would be “premature” to say whether FirstEnergy’s ongoing internal review, which began after the SEC subpoena, might find violations by other company officials.
“I think the only thing we can say is the internal investigation by the board and outside counsel led to the outcomes you saw Friday,” Strah said Monday during a conference call with investors. “And that’s the only kind of comment we can make about the past. The dismissal of the executives mentioned were for violations of company policy and codes of conduct.”
Strah’s comments, and FirstEnergy’s identification of possible criminal charges, are a change in tone from the company’s previous conference call in July, led by Jones."
-- Andrew J Tobias, cleveland.com
"The good news is that Ohio can recreate its energy future, build a stronger, more resilient economy, and help families save money each month. A repeal will accomplish some of that, but should Ohio invest in and adopt a more inclusive energy policy, Ohio will benefit for decades to come.
A recent report conducted by the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University shows how large, utility-scale solar energy projects can benefit Ohio’s economy by creating thousands of new jobs, provide significant tax revenues for struggling rural counties, and help eliminate the need for Ohio to import costly energy from other states. More importantly, the possible — $10 billion projected to be invested in these solar developments will almost entirely come from private sector capital — not ratepayers. Furthermore, it has consistently been demonstrated that solar and wind energy create more jobs than traditional forms of energy and are in many cases, the most affordable form of new energy development.
The report shows utility scale solar can potentially deliver up to 50,000 construction jobs (80% of which must be filled from Ohio residents, per Ohio law); more than 600 full time, well paying, operations and maintenance jobs; and generate up to $2.7 billion in tax revenues to rural communities and the state of Ohio."
-- Susan Monroe, Guest Column, The Lima Ohio