FirstEnergy’s admissions feed critics’ call for big-picture regulatory oversight and review

The company’s revelations about Ohio’s largest corruption case raise questions about the integrity of the regulatory process and its piecemeal approach to reviewing utility spending.

By Kathiann M. Kowalski

This story is from the Energy News Network in collaboration with Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join Eye on Ohio’s  free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy News Network as this helps The Tremonster provide more public service reporting.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio should conduct a big-picture, in-depth review of FirstEnergy’s spending and governance in light of the company’s admissions last month about former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo, critics say.

“It’s not a debate anymore whether the company engaged in corruption,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “The company did so. With this pervasive corruption, the PUCO needs to mind the store in order to protect the public interest and to protect consumers.”

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Ohio regulators decline to force FirstEnergy to hire an independent auditor

The order agrees that spending should be open to review but first requires the company to review itself.

By Kathiann M. Kowalski

This article provided to The Tremonster through an investigative journalism collaboration with Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join Eye on Ohio’s free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy News Network as this helps us provide more public service reporting.

Regulators are requiring FirstEnergy to show that its Ohio utility ratepayers didn’t foot the bill, “directly or indirectly,” for political or charitable spending in support of the state’s nuclear and coal bailout bill. Yet that order is much more lenient than the state’s official consumer advocate had sought.

Questions about possible improprieties arose after former House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, was arrested on July 21. That case involves an alleged criminal conspiracy by him and others to pass House Bill 6 last year and then to defend it against a citizens’ referendum. The federal complaint and indictment allege that the defendants received approximately $60 million from “Company A” — apparently FirstEnergy — and its subsidiaries and affiliates.

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