Ohio AG files suit to block nuclear bailout payments

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is seeking to keep the owner of two nuclear power plants in Ohio from getting $1.3 billion in bailout money in what has become the largest bribery scandal in state history, Kallanish Energy reports.

Yost on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to keep Energy Harbor (previously called FirstEnergy Solutions) from collecting bailout money that will be collected starting in January from Ohio electric utility customers under a utility surcharge contained in House Bill 6 that was passed in 2019.

His civil suit would keep the money from going to Energy Harbor but the money will still be collected.

Ohio must take action by Oct. 1 to block payment or else the money will be collected by Energy Harbor.

If Yost prevails, the fees collected would go into the Ohio treasury rather than going to Energy Harbor, unless the Ohio Legislature redirects the money.

“Ohio laws should not be built on the basis of fraud, deceit and intimidation,” Yost said in a statement. “Given the corruption surrounding House Bill 6, it is proper to block these ill-gotten gains from filling the coffers of those under criminal indictment.”

Yost has also asked the court to impose a series of restrictions on political lobbying and wants anyone involved in the bribery scheme to be banned from political activity for eight years.

Those fees are at the center of scandal that implicated former Republican House of Representatives Speaker Larry Householder and four others who are accused of taking $61 million in bribes. They have pleaded innocent to the federal racketeering charges.

Householder was ousted from his post although he remains in the House after the July charges were filed.

Some have called for House Bill 6 to be rescinded because of the scandal but that has not yet happened.

The $61 million came from FirstEnergy over three years with the money being directed to non-profit groups with ties to Householder and the others, federal officials said.

No one from FirstEnergy Corp. or its affiliated companies has been charged.

Initially, FirstEnergy Solutions, a FirstEnergy subsidiary, had said it would close the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in 2020 and the Perry unclear plant in 2021, unless it got the $1.3 billion bailout.

Under House Bill 6, Ohio electric customers will pay a new fee of 85 cents a month on their electric bills with about $150 million a year going to the two struggling nuclear plants.

FirstEnergy said the nuclear plants were unable to compete with low-priced natural gas and renewables.

The nuclear plants were owned by FirstEnergy Solutions which spun off from FirstEnergy and went through Chapter 11 reorganization. It had been the unregulated generation arm of FirstEnergy with coal-fired and nuclear plants. It rebranded last February as Energy Harbor, an independent company.

House Bill 6 also provides $20 million a year to two coal-fired plants and financial support to select solar projects. It eliminated subsidies for energy efficiency, made it harder to win approval for wind projects and eliminated a requirement that Ohio get 12.5% of its electricity from renewables by 2027.

This post appeared first on Kallanish Energy News.