The Lobbyist Who Became Ohio’s Top Utility Regulator
PITTSBURGH, PA -- "Dave Anderson, policy and communications manager for the left-leaning Energy and Policy Institute, points out that Sam Randazzo, chairman the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and of the Ohio Power Siting Board, has had his hand in all of this.
'He is known as a fairly strong anti-wind zealot,' Anderson said.
Randazzo has been a well-known lobbyist for industrial energy users, gas utilities, and anti-wind groups. He also helped draft earlier legislation to freeze Ohio’s renewable energy mandates. According to Anderson, Randazzo’s appointment last year as the state’s top utility regulator is indicative of Ohio’s energy policy.
'I think it’s all part of a bigger picture of opposition to renewable energy,' he said. 'And House Bill 6 was the ultimate get for opponents of renewables in Ohio.'
Randazzo declined repeated requests to comment for this story. A spokesman for the Ohio Power Siting Board said since the Icebreaker Wind decision is under appeal, the Chairman cannot speak on these issues."
--Julie Grant, The Allegheny Front
The Duke Energy Accountability Coalition, of which Ohio Citizen Action is a member, is closely monitoring Duke’s schemes to suppress renewable energy options in its six-state service area (includes parts of southern Ohio), Duke’s deplorable environmental record as one of the nation’s leading emitters of greenhouse gases and producers of toxic coal ash, and its history of ignoring affordability issues for low-income customers.
By Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4565752
"Next week, reporters, investors and industry analysts can ask the nation’s largest investor-owned electric utility for answers.
On Monday, Aug. 10, Duke will release its second-quarter financial results in a conference call with investors and analysts. Journalists are barred but can direct questions to Duke’s PR staff in Charlotte, N.C.
Grant Smith, senior energy policy advisor at EWG, said Duke must answer 'the $8 billion questions':
- Will you follow Dominion and other forward-looking utilities in turning away from additional financially foolish and environmentally harmful gas capacity and invest in clean, safe, efficient renewables and storage batteries?
- Do you see Duke’s plans to spend billions on new gas pipelines and power plants as an acceptable risk for your investors, and if so, how will you deal with the huge stranded costs of gas infrastructure that could be obsolete before they’re completed?"
-- Alex Formuzis, Environmental Working Group
COLUMBUS -- "Facebook, General Mills and Nestle are among about 50 companies that have written a letter to Ohio leaders urging the repeal of House Bill 6, the 2019 nuclear-bailout law that has become the target of federal investigators.
'As businesses, investors, trade associations and employers, we urge the repeal of House Bill 6 in light of the disturbing and shocking allegations made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,' said the letter, which was sent to Gov. Mike DeWine and the leaders of the state House and Senate.
Repeal of the legislation, which the legislature passed and DeWine signed a year ago, 'will help restore public confidence and ensure continued growth of Ohio’s clean energy economy,' the letter said."
-- Mark Williams, Columbus Dispatch
COLUMBUS -- "Not only does he intend to keep Dan McCarthy in his administration, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine might use McCarthy to lobby the legislature for another nuclear bailout.
McCarthy, DeWine’s legislative affairs director, is a former lobbyist for FirstEnergy who set up a dark money group that funneled millions of corporate dollars into a second dark-money group that federal prosecutors say is at the heart of the biggest bribery scandal in Ohio history.
...as president of the 501(c)(4) Partners for Progress, McCarthy was a conduit for corporate cash to flow into a scheme that resulted in one of the biggest scandals ever to rock the Ohio Capitol.
Such organizations are called “dark-money” groups because they don’t have to disclose their donors."
-- Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal
"The climate consequences can be serious.
In Ohio, FirstEnergy Solutions made the decision to keep open W.H. Sammis, the second-largest coal plant in the state, after the bailout law passed.
Sammis emitted 12.3 million tons of CO2 in 2013, according to EPA data. But the plant has run less and less in recent years. It ran only 20% in 2019, down from 61% in 2014.
Last year, it reported CO2 emissions of 4.6 million tons, or what 900,000 cars emit annually.
The result is a one-two punch to climate and consumers, forcing them to pay for polluting plants that are no longer economic, said Leah Stokes, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who has written extensively about Ohio's bailout law. She said FirstEnergy represents one of the most egregious cases of utility corruption, but is part of a larger pattern of power companies' approach to climate policy."
-- Benjamin Storrow, E&E News
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In what they have referred to as an effort to restore trust and confidence, the members of the Ohio House of Representatives have selected Representative Bob Cupp as their new Speaker.
Rep. Cupp voted in favor of House Bill 6 on two separate occasions and received campaign money from FirstEnergy, including an ethically questionable donation from the corporation while serving as a justice on the Supreme Court of Ohio.
This decision has done nothing to instill trust with the public, and Speaker Cupp now has a lot to prove.
His first act as Speaker should be to call for an immediate and clean repeal of HB 6. He must show Ohioans that he is not simply Householder 2.0. Ohioans have lost confidence in their elected officials. It is time for legislators to listen to their constituents and not their big utility donors.
It’s time to fully repeal HB 6.
- Rachael Belz, Director, Ohio Consumers Power Alliance
Erik Droust / Creative Commons
Environmental studies so far have found little potential impact from a proposed offshore wind farm in Lake Erie near Cleveland.
“'Ohio is sending a very clear message: ‘We do not want innovation,’' State Senator Matt Dolan (R) said. 'Ohio will not be seen as fertile ground for investment in any new invention, innovation or technology. That is my point.
'I support [the lake wind farm] but if they had not worked their way through and had failed, that is what can happen. But they did, though. And that is what is disturbing. Why would anyone spend millions of dollars for at the last minute to have a poison pill inserted? And it stands. And no one says anything.
'It will be a wet blanket on all innovation, all new technology. People just won’t feel comfortable coming to Ohio. We cannot let this stand because of the long-term implications that it will have.'
LEEDCo has previously estimated the project’s construction would be worth $250 million to the local economy. If built, the project would be the first freshwater wind farm in North America."
-- John Funk, Energy News Network
"According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, Ohio’s two nuclear power plants account for 87% of the state’s zero emission electricity.
That’s not exactly something to write home about. Considering that the cost of renewable energy is continuing to drop with no end in sight, this would be a bad time to double down on expensive nuclear energy.
Nevertheless, Ohio Citizen Action estimates that the HB6 nuclear bailout will sock ratepayers with $200 million in increased costs.
HB6 was signed into law last year, saddling Ohio ratepayers with two aging nuclear power plants and two old coal power plants, to boot.
'Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 6 (HB 6) into law on July 23, 2019, approving bailouts for the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants, which are owned by FirstEnergy’s former subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), and were previously scheduled to close in 2020 and 2021, respectively, after FES announced its bankruptcy,' explains Ohio Citizen Action. 'The final version of the bill extends the bailout to two old and dirty coal plants—Kyger Creek in southern Ohio and Clifty Creek in Indiana.'"
-- Tina Casey, CleanTechnica
COLUMBUS — "Gov. Mike DeWine reversed himself and called for the repeal of the House Bill 6 on Thursday, saying Speaker Larry Householder’s alleged bribery scheme “forever tainted” the $1.3 billion nuclear bailout law.
DeWine, who signed HB6 a year ago Thursday, reiterated that he supports the policy laid out in the bailout, saying it’s needed to preserve jobs at the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants and keep carbon-free sources of energy.
'While the policy in my opinion is good, the process by which it was created stinks. It’s terrible, it’s not acceptable,' DeWine said during his televised coronavirus briefing.
The governor’s announcement marks a reversal from just the day before, when he stood by HB6 despite the federal charges against Householder and four allies regarding their acceptance of more than $60 million from FirstEnergy Corp. to get HB6 passed and thwart an anti-HB6 referendum effort."
— Jeremy Pelzer, Cleveland.com