FirstEnergy paid $4M to end a contract with an Ohio regulator, company says
COLUMBUS, Ohio - "Top executives at Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. paid $4 million in early 2019 to end a consulting contract with someone who was subsequently appointed to be a full-time state regulator overseeing electricity distribution rates, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.
The filing does not name who FirstEnergy Corp. paid.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio regulates utility companies, including FirstEnergy. Gov. Mike DeWine appointed attorney Sam Randazzo as PUCO chairman in February 2019 and the Ohio Senate confirmed that appointment in April 2019."
--Laura Bischoff, Dayton Daily News
PUCO chairman skips meeting following FBI search of his home
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
Agents searching PUCO chairman’s home
COLUMBUS — "Federal agents are searching this morning a Columbus condo owned by Sam Randazzo, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
Todd Lindgren spokesman for the FBI Cincinnati bureau said agents are conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in that area. It’s related to a sealed federal search warrant, he said, and declined to provide further details."
--Laura Bischoff, Dayton Daily News
FBI searches residence of PUCO chairman Sam Randazzo
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
Ohio PUCO auditing FirstEnergy following House Bill 6 bribery scandal
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
Column: After HB 6, Ohio needs to recreate energy future
"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
read the full article
Across the political spectrum, Ohioans agree it's time to repeal HB 6
"While some plans to repeal or replace HB 6 have been proposed, it is Ohio’s newly-elected speaker that Leland refers to who remains a wild card in the equation. Rep. Bob Cupp, R-Lima, was chosen by his fellow Republicans because of his veteran status in Ohio politics, but he voted for HB 6 as well. Cupp quickly formed a study committee to look into whether or not HB 6 should be repealed or replaced, but the committee has nothing else planned until after Nov. 3, kicking any potential action on HB 6 to a brief lame duck session following the election. Now Ohioans are getting restless.
Thankfully, some state legislators on both sides of the aisle are trying to right the wrong. House Majority Whip Rep. Laura Lanese, R-Grove City, bucked Householder’s demands for supporting HB 6 and voted against the bill in 2019. Lanese has since been leading the charge among House Republicans to repeal HB 6, while Democrats like Rep. Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood, and Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Warren, have introduced a bill to repeal HB 6 as well. Together, the two bills have 54 cosponsors, with some legislators signing on to both, including Rep. Dave Greenspan, R-Westlake, who also sponsored Lanese’s bill. However, so far no proposal has made it past the initial committee hearings and now it’s clear that if the majority of Ohioans want to see HB 6 repealed, they must make their voices heard for action to be taken.
After all, across the political spectrum, Ohioans are ready to see HB 6 get repealed. Thanks to the work of the FBI and individuals committed to transparency, voters are now fully aware of FirstEnergy and Larry Householder’s alleged conspiracy to siphon $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars into failing energy companies in and outside of Ohio. Ohioans deserve to have corrective action taken by their elected leaders as soon as possible, as an immediate repeal of HB 6 on its face is a no-brainer. For now, it’s just time for Republicans and Democrats in the Statehouse to have the guts and political will to do it."
-- Rachael Belz, Tyler Fehrman, and Travis Irvine, Ohio Capital Journal