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
COLUMBUS — "Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday stood by his support for House Bill 6, the billion-dollar nuclear bailout bill he signed into law last year, even though House Speaker Larry Householder and four allies were charged with running the largest bribery scheme in state history to get the measure passed.
Speaking at a televised news conference, DeWine on one hand said he is worried that the corruption charges will erode the public’s trust in government. But he said he is standing by the law because he believes it saved jobs and preserved non-carbon-emitting sources of power in the state.
'The policy is good policy,' the governor said, asserting that without HB6 the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants would have closed. 'Because people did bad things does not mean that the policy is not a good policy.'"
— Jeremy Pelzer, Cleveland.com
"Now that it’s clear that Ohio’s draconian energy policy was passed based on bribery and corruption, legislators should act immediately to repeal the law.
While Gov. Mike DeWine has called for Householder’s resignation, he has not called for the repeal of the corrupt coal bailout. That’s perhaps not surprising, since DeWine has himself taken money from FirstEnergy. DeWine’s staff even made plans to fly legislators on a taxpayer-funded plane to make Householder’s last-minute vote for the bailout. The day after DeWine signed the law, he attended a Trump fundraiser hosted by coal baron Bob Murray. He seems quite cozy with the fossil fuel industry.
If DeWine is not in bed with FirstEnergy, then he should be calling for HB 6 to be reversed immediately. This law was passed by corrupt politicians. The effort to overturn it by popular will was thwarted by a corrupt utility. If DeWine can’t see this invalidates Ohio’s energy law, then perhaps he has a bigger problem.
We cannot allow utility corruption to continue to stall clean energy progress. This FBI affidavit is a wake-up call to all politicians: Stop taking electric utilities’ money."
-- Leah Stokes, Vox
Local leaders in coal communities are developing solutions that tackle the climate crisis and create equitable and sustainable economic growth from the ground up
Ohio Consumers Power Alliance is pleased to announce that we have endorsed the National Economic Transition Platform. Launched June 30, 2020, this platform provides national leaders a path forward to developing the community-powered, national economic transition program that American coal communities need and deserve.
From Appalachia to the Navajo Nation, the people hit hardest by the changing coal economy are facing a profound crisis. As these challenges continue to mount, local leaders in coal communities are working to tackle the climate crisis and create equitable and sustainable economic growth. The National Economic Transition Platform is crafted by these leaders, to give national policymakers a framework for a comprehensive national economic transition program that will create and support vibrant, inclusive communities.
This platform empowers workers and communities—in rural, urban, and tribal settings— as the nation adapts to the realities of climate change while confronting economic and public health crises. These solutions are built by and for communities to create resilient economies that can withstand shocks like economic recessions and worldwide pandemics. Together with more than 80 other organizations, Ohio Consumers Power Alliance has endorsed this platform as a way to work toward a future where the communities hit hardest by the decline of the coal industry have equitable economies, thriving local businesses, and family-sustaining jobs.
The framework for this platform is built on seven pillars of integrated federal policy solutions. Fully addressing the challenges of the energy transition requires a substantial local, state, and federal-level investment, as well as investment from the private sector and philanthropy. Together, Ohio Consumers Power Alliance and our co-signatories call upon national policymakers to advance the platform’s framework; it is the best way to serve and assist the people and places most affected by past and future coal transitions. The time for equitable and lasting change is now.
"It doesn't take much of a leap to see a connection between underrepresentation in the solar work force and the lower use of solar in some neighborhoods. Whole communities are much less likely to have job contacts in the industry, and are also less likely to know someone who has rooftop solar and can talk about its benefits.
These discrepancies touch on a larger environmental justice issue: Majority black neighborhoods also have higher levels of air pollution from industry and fossil fuel electricity than majority white neighborhoods, according to a large body of research.
The inequities in solar power are a major concern because the solar industry is likely to be an increasingly important part of our economy.
If the benefits of this industry are mostly limited to people who already are in a position of privilege, this leads to justified resentment. And that resentment can be exploited by industries that want to slow down the transition to clean energy. For example, some utilities have sought help from NAACP chapters to oppose rooftop solar, based on the idea that the benefits of solar are going to mainly white and affluent households, shifting costs to everyone else. The utilities' argument is shaky at best, with little evidence that solar cost-shifting is anything more than a minor issue, but there is no escaping that black communities have not gotten a proportionate share of the benefits of solar."
-- Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News
With Ohio bailout law secured, FirstEnergy Solutions successor moves to increase share buybacks by $300 million
COLUMBUS -- "Leaders of a former FirstEnergy subsidiary, which Ohio electricity customers will soon begin paying $150 million annually to subsidize under a nuclear bailout law Ohio officials passed last year, have moved to spend an extra $300 million on repurchasing the company’s own stock.
The stock buybacks, meant to benefit corporate shareholders, come less than a year after an aggressive multi-year lobbying effort by FirstEnergy that culminated in Gov. Mike DeWine and state lawmakers approving $1 billion in bailout money funded by surcharges on Ohioans’ electric bills. The company and elected officials who backed the bailout argued without state money, the power plants and their parent company would become insolvent.
The board of directors for the company now known as Energy Harbor on Friday voted to increase authorization for its stock buyback program from $500 million to $800 million, according to an investor presentation the company posted to its website. Energy Harbor can buy back the stock any time until Aug. 27., under the terms of a company plan, approved as the Akron company spun off from FirstEnergy as it emerged from bankruptcy proceedings earlier this year."
-- Andrew Tobias, cleveland.com
A mailer sent to thousands of Ohio residents falsely linked the Chinese government to anti-bailout activists.
"The raw political and economic power of the industry was on display even after the bill was passed. Having been defeated within the legislature, grassroots organizations such as Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts and Ohio Consumers Power Alliance took to the streets and tried to collect signatures on a petition calling for a referendum question about HB6 to be included in the 2020 elections. It was a tough task, since those opposing the bailout had less than two months to gather over a quarter of a million valid signatures.
FirstEnergy tried to stop them with a two-pronged approach. The first was a legal trick. It went to the state’s supreme court and argued that the monthly charges on customers 'should be considered tax increases, which cannot be challenged by a referendum.' But the court dismissed the case, saying there was 'no ‘justiciable controversy’ for it to decide.' For the main part, though, the response from FirstEnergy and other beneficiaries was more of the same: dark money–backed organizations spending millions to undo the grassroots efforts by urging voters to refuse signing the petition.
Among these organizations was one called Ohioans for Energy Security, which sponsored television advertisements that falsely claimed that China is 'intertwining themselves financially in our energy infrastructure,' threatening 'national security,' and implying that not going through with the bailout campaign would lead to Chinese control of Ohio’s power grid. The watchdog organization Energy and Policy Institute quickly identified that some of the people featured in the TV advertisement were in fact FirstEnergy employees. In other words, there was reason to suspect that FirstEnergy was behind the advertisement. Ohioans for Energy Security also mailed thousands of letters to state residents with bold lettering behind a Chinese flag imploring, 'Don’t give the Chinese government your personal information.' The hyperbolic allegations about China apparently are connected to natural gas-fired power plants in Ohio that were partially financed by a Chinese government-owned bank, although FirstEnergy has itself borrowed money from the same bank."