The nuclear bailout nobody’s talking about

COLUMBUS -- "In February, seven months after Gov. Mike Dewine signed the $1.3 billion ratepayer bailout that mostly would subsidize two Northern Ohio nuclear plants, FirstEnergy might have gotten an even bigger break in U.S. bankruptcy court. That’s when Judge Alan M. Koschik signed off on a settlement that largely excused FirstEnergy from footing part of the bill to clean up the aging nuclear plants in Ohio and another in Pennsylvania that it had bequeathed to to its successor, now known as Energy Harbor, in the event that company goes belly up.

If the new company can’t make a go of it with the nuclear and coal plants that had been owned by FirstEnergy, taxpayers could well be on the hook for whatever part of the estimated $10 billion nuclear cleanup that Energy Harbor and a trust fund it’s required to maintain can’t.

Those are cleanups that, for financial reasons, will take 60 years — decades during which the crumbling cooling tower of the company’s Davis-Besse plant, for example, will loom over the Lake Erie shoreline in view of South Bass Island, one of Ohio’s premier tourist attractions."

-- Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal

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Here’s why Ohio lawmakers haven’t done anything about scandal-tainted House Bill 6 so far

"The main reason, lawmakers and observers say, is because – much like congressional Republicans' unsuccessful attempts to repeal Obamacare in 2017 – there’s no consensus among GOP lawmakers on what, if anything, to replace HB6 with.

Some favor a straight repeal of HB6. Others think it should be replaced, and at least a few believe nothing at all should be done to alter it.

'They are all over the place,' said state Rep. Mark Romanchuk of Richland County about his fellow Republicans.

There are other reasons as well. Even Republicans who favor repealing and replacing House Bill 6 say they need time to study HB6, an enormously complex law that goes far beyond the nuclear bailout, and make sure that any changes they make to it won’t have unintended consequences for Ohioans."

-- Jeremy Pelzer, 

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If you want to contact your legislator about HB 6, visit

Nuclear plants at center of Ohio subsidy fight operating above wholesale prices

"An S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis shows Energy Harbor Corp.'s 908-MW Davis-Besse and 1,268-MW Perry nuclear plants, both in northern Ohio, have operating costs higher than wholesale electricity prices. A mid-2019 analysis showed the plants with operating costs running below wholesale electricity prices.

The most recent analysis shows wholesale prices in the PJM Interconnection rising through the end of 2020 and into 2021, which is when Ohio's clean air credit for nuclear plants kicks in.

House Bill 6, which establishes a $9/MWh credit for clean air resources, provides $150 million in annual financial support for the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear units beginning Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2027."

-- S&P Global Market Intelligence

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Gov. Mike DeWine wants Energy Harbor, FirstEnergy to prove nuclear plants need a $1.3B public bailout

COLUMBUS -- "Now it’s October. But HB 6 is still Ohio law, thanks to inaction by the Republican-run Ohio House of Representatives. That’s the House once led by Republican Larry Householder, a Republican from Perry County’s Glenford. In July, a federal grand jury indicted Householder and four others on federal racketeering charges, alleging that a $60 million “money laundering scheme” helped pass HB 6. (Householder and the others are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.)

The Ohio House’s Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight has been talking about repealing HB 6. And talking. And talking more. Now, though, the panel’s gone home, probably till after Nov. 3′s general election.

Ohio electricity consumers must wonder why the legislature hasn’t already repealed HB 6, given how prosecutor DeVillers described the alleged $60 million scheme to pass the bill: '[It] was bribery, plain and simple. This was a quid pro quo. This was pay to play.'"

-- Thomas Suddes, opinion,

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OCPA responds to Ohio AG lawsuit to stop HB 6 from taking effect

(OH-September 23, 2020) -- Today, Ohio Attorney General David Yost announced that the state is filing an injunction to ensure that no entity or individual slated to benefit from any portion of the $1.5 billion bailout awarded to FirstEnergy Solutions under House Bill 6 will receive payment.

This legislation is so steeped in corruption that our state’s Attorney General felt compelled to play legal gatekeeper to prohibit defendants and others included in the FBI investigation surrounding House Bill 6 from profiting. The fact that this action is necessary is not normal. It is not okay. But this is where the Ohio General Assembly has left us.

Even worse, today’s injunction does nothing to keep dollars in the pockets of Ohio consumers. The state will still begin collecting fees from all Ohio electricity customers on January 1st until a final decision is made by the Ohio General Assembly on the future of House Bill 6.

We thank Attorney General Yost for his leadership on this issue. But now it is time for our legislators to stand up and offer this same kind of leadership. Ohioans deserve better than to have their hard-earned dollars sitting in a black hole in the state coffers because their elected officials will not take action.

We call on the members of the Ohio General Assembly to do their jobs. Fully repeal House Bill 6 now. No excuses. Your constituents are watching, and time is running out.

-- Rachael Belz, Director, Ohio Consumers Power Alliance


Nation's first freshwater windfarm all but approved as Ohio siting board removes 'poison pill'

COLUMBUS -- "The Ohio Power Siting Board reversed itself Thursday and agreed in a unanimous vote to remove language from a construction permit the Board approved in May that would have required the nation's first freshwater wind farm to shut down turbines at night eight months out of the year to protect migrating birds and bats.

Project developers called that provision a "poison pill" that made financing impossible and asked for reconsideration while 32 state lawmakers from northern Ohio publicly pressured the Board to reconsider. A draft version of Thursday's decision — circulated earlier in the week and introduced Thursday — had kept the overnight shutdown language.

Siting Board member Mary Mertz, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, offered an amendment before the vote on the draft proposal could be taken, removing the "poison pill" provisions, but allowing the full Power Siting Board as well as her agency to periodically review avian mortality rates rather than relying only on the Board's staff reviews."

-- John Funk, Utility Dive

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Ohio regulators decline to force FirstEnergy to hire an independent auditor

COLUMBUS -- "The PUCO’s order is 'a baby step towards the direction of what the Consumers’ Counsel is suggesting,' but it’s certainly not the same, said former PUCO member Ashley Brown, who now heads the Harvard Electricity Policy Group. Ohio regulators have wide leeway in investigating utilities’ activities, he noted, and the order doesn’t foreclose additional inquiries beyond whatever FirstEnergy files in response.

...Even if the rate of return looks OK on paper, one might ask if personnel at the parent and affiliates charged for time related to lobbying efforts, Brown said. Likewise, the utilities’ electric security plans include some cross-subsidies for unregulated activities.

Additionally, from 2017 through mid-2019, FirstEnergy’s utilities collected roughly $440 million from ratepayers for a credit support rider that wasn’t tied to any services for ratepayers. Critics have questioned what the company did with those funds. The Ohio Supreme Court subsequently held the charge unlawful but didn’t require a refund.

'To do this audit correctly, you can’t just look at the accounts' from the utilities, Brown said. 'You have to look at what’s behind the reporting. … It really requires a professional auditing firm that has financial skills and management skills and forensics skills.' And, he added, if improprieties show up, the bigger question is how the corporation and its directors and officers might have allowed them to happen.'"

-- Kathianne M Kowalski, Energy News Network

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Ohio regulators launch probe into FirstEnergy's political and charitable contributions

COLUMBUS - "...The outlook for the bailout to survive remains sketchy as lawmakers, already nervous over public reaction to the revelations made by federal prosecutors, have learned that a proposal by regional grid operator PJM would, in effect, nullify the impact of any state subsidies to a power plant by taking them into account when setting the minimum price acceptable from them in future capacity market auctions.

Veteran utility lawyer, Samuel Randazzo, now the chairman of the PUCO, deflected questions during a legislative hearing this week from Democratic lawmakers wanting to know why the PUCO had to be prodded by the state's consumer advocate to launch its own investigation.

They also demanded to know whether as a lawyer and lobbyist Randazzo or his previous management companies had a business relationship with FirstEnergy. Randazzo provided lawmakers with a broad but detailed overview of the state's utility laws but deflected questions about his former clients during his nearly 50-year law practice in the state.

The PUCO's decision to open a review of FirstEnergy's spending on political campaigns also left the Consumers' Counsel unhappy and critical."

-- John Funk, Utility Dive

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Lawmaker Accuses Utility Commision Chair Of Having Personal Interest In Nuclear Bailout

COLUMBUS -- "PUCO chair Sam Randazzo says he is not taking a position one way or the other on the potential repeal HB6, which bails out nuclear power plants among several other things.

Randazzo was asked if he ever did business with companies that would create a conflict when it comes to the bill.

...However, state Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) pointed to public records that he says connects a company owned by Randazzo as a creditor for the former FirstEnergy subsidiary, previously known as FirstEnergy Solutions.

HB6 bails out two nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions, now called Energy Harbor.

Weinstein claims Randazzo has 'personal skin in the game.'"

-- Andy Chow, WOSU Radio

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OCPA responds to Sam Randazzo testimony on bills to repeal House Bill 6

(OH-September 16, 2020) Today, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo appeared before the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight to offer remarks on a number of bills intended to repeal House Bill 6.

While answering questions from committee members, Randazzo stated that he views himself as “old school.” But could it be that he is too “old school” to move Ohio forward into a clean energy future? After decades of being a passionate advocate for his anti-clean energy clients, he has an outdated view of the choice consumers want for their energy generation today. He also refers to decisions made prior to his Chairmanship at the PUCO as BS—Before Sam.

Randazzo referred to himself as “old school” in refusing to disclose his former clients when asked about what bias he might be bringing to the discussion. While he did state that he has never worked for any utility regulated by the PUCO or their affiliates, public records tell a different story. His companies, Sustainable Funding Alliance of Ohio and IEU Administration Company, are listed as creditors of FirstEnergy Solutions in public documents to the tune of $43,000 (links below).

If he has never worked for this company that is at the center of Ohio’s largest bribery scandal, it makes one wonder why they owe him money?

Randazzo also suggested that current energy policy allows markets to work just fine for clean energy development, yet companies like Third Solar in Athens has laid off 20 people following the passage of House Bill 6, with efforts to attract investors and employees hampered by the state’s opposition to the clean energy industry.

PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo is out of touch and doing a great disservice to Ohio’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 if Chairman Randazzo disagrees, maybe we call BS. But we definitely call on Governor Mike DeWine to replace Sam Randazzo today.

Public documents on ownership of company listed as FirstEnergy Solutions creditor: 

-- press release, Rachael Belz, director, Ohio Consumers Power Alliance