Ohio cities settle civil claims related to power plant bailout

FirstEnergy entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in July. As of Dec. 12, Energy Harbor had not yet been indicted for any criminal charges in connection with HB 6. Both remain potentially liable to claims by the state of Ohio and others (photo of Perry Nuclear Power Plant courtesy of FirstEnergy YouTube video, “FirstEnergy Takes Pride in Being a Good Neighbor”).

In a consolidated case, the Ohio attorney general’s office wants to move ahead on its civil racketeering case against FirstEnergy, Energy Harbor and others.

By Kathiann M. Kowalski

This article is provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join the free mailing lists for Eye on Ohio or the Energy News Network, as this helps provide more public service reporting for readers of The Tremonster.

The cities of Cincinnati and Columbus have dismissed their state court claims against FirstEnergy and Energy Harbor for the companies’ actions relating to House Bill 6, the nuclear and coal bailout law at the heart of a $60 million corruption case in Ohio.

“The dismissal was the result of negotiations with the defendants, the court’s ruling in our favor, and the partial repeal of HB 6,” said Andrew Garth, city solicitor for Cincinnati.  

The Dec. 2 dismissal does not include any admission of wrongdoing by FirstEnergy or Energy Harbor. The joint filing was made “with prejudice,” meaning the cities cannot bring the same claims against the companies at a later time.

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Top regulator’s exit raises questions about utility and fossil fuel influence


By Kathiann M. Kowalski

This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join the Eye on Ohio free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy New Network as this helps provide more public service reporting.

Concerns about the outsized influence of utility and fossil fuel interests have resurfaced as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio begins steps to name a new commissioner after the sudden exit of Chair Sam Randazzo.  

Randazzo resigned on Nov. 20 after an FBI team had searched his home and FirstEnergy released a mandatory quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The report showed the company paid $4 million to an entity associated with Randazzo shortly before his appointment last year.

Now the Public Utilities Commission, or PUCO, has put out a call for applicants to fill the vacancy. Under Ohio law, a nominating council will review the applications and then nominate four candidates to the governor. Advocates have criticized the council, which only has one seat for a consumer advocate, as being too heavily tilted toward utility interests.

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