Connect with us

Published

on



This month-to-month publication supplies updates on Ohio’s ongoing utility corruption scandal and is a joint undertaking of Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Heart for Journalism, and the nonprofit Energy News Network.

Received a query? Story thought? Ship ideas or feedback to information@eyeonohio.com.


New developments within the saga surrounding Home Invoice 6, Ohio’s nuclear and coal bailout legislation, embody:

  • Reality-finding efforts proceed to face frustrations in regulatory and court docket circumstances.
  • FirstEnergy cites the Eighth Modification’s bar towards extreme fines in arguing towards penalties for thwarting auditors.
  • One choose has given a preliminary thumbs as much as a settlement for a number of FirstEnergy shareholder by-product fits, however for now will await different judges to rule in their very own circumstances.
  • Ohio’s corruption scandal casts new mild on a pre-HB 6 deal that paid thousands and thousands to demolish and clear up a former coal plant web site.

Sustain on protection of unprecedented native corruption

Subscribe to Eye on Ohio and Energy Information Community’s month-to-month Eye on Utilities newsletter to maintain monitor of the myriad shareholder actions, legal circumstances, and regulatory investigations surrounding the HB 6 scandal.

Irrelevant?

FirstEnergy offered the Workplace of the Ohio Customers’ Counsel with numerous paperwork it had beforehand produced in shareholder litigation. But the corporate continues to battle towards different disclosures in regulatory circumstances associated to the Home Invoice 6 scandal.

Amongst different issues, FirstEnergy needs the Public Utilities Fee of Ohio to block the OCC from requiring Bob Mattiuz, a vp for compliance and controlled companies, to convey paperwork on company and charitable contributions to his deposition. Depositions let attorneys query a witness below oath.

FirstEnergy argued that the doc requests had been untimely below a previous deadline. The corporate additionally asserted that the request is “irrelevant” and “unrelated to the [utilities’] compliance below Ohio company separation legislation.”

The Might 9 submitting is daring in mild of audit findings that sure ratepayer charges had been improperly tracked. That conduct may have let FirstEnergy use ratepayers’ cash for political functions or to subsidize associates’ actions. These actions would arguably violate Ohio’s company separation legislation.

The submitting additionally reveals FirstEnergy attempting to take most benefit of the PUCO’s piecemeal approach to HB 6 points, versus a complete investigation. The PUCO has additionally been implicated within the corruption scandal because of FirstEnergy’s admission about funds to former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo, who performed a task in organising the piecemeal strategy earlier than his resignation in November 2020.

Learn extra:

Extreme fines?

FirstEnergy filings additionally ask the PUCO to reject requests by OCC and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Energy Group for as much as $1.4 million in restitution and penalties for FirstEnergy’s failure to trace the rider funds after they went right into a money pool. Amongst different issues, the corporate argues that statutory penalties of as much as $10,000 per day is perhaps improper below the U.S. Structure’s Eighth Amendment, which forbids extreme bail, extreme fines and “merciless and weird” punishments.

FirstEnergy asserts there was no violation of the PUCO’s order organising the rider and contends that reimbursement is forbidden. Nevertheless, the penalty request focuses on FirstEnergy’s alleged wrongdoing for not tracking rider money, versus the rider itself. So, the penalty calls for are arguably distinct from the reimbursement declare that the Ohio Supreme Courtroom denied when it dominated the rider unlawful in 2019, simply earlier than HB 6 grew to become legislation.

FirstEnergy additionally claims that the penalty demand ignores advantages from a $300 million settlement in an excess profits case. That case handled calculations of considerably extreme earnings, and the settlement got here after an Ohio Supreme Courtroom ruling that the PUCO erred in excluding the rider cash from earnings take a look at calculations. Events reached the settlement earlier than audits from FERC and Daymark confirmed that FirstEnergy’s practices had obscured how the rider cash was finally used.

The PUCO has but to rule on the penalty difficulty. An adversarial ruling would possibly finally go earlier than the Ohio Supreme Courtroom.

Learn extra:

Looking for information from FERC

OCC and others are also asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Fee to share paperwork and knowledge from its ongoing circumstances on FirstEnergy. That features a full set of paperwork concerned in a latest audit, versus the smaller subset that the PUCO has informed FirstEnergy to offer.

“FirstEnergy has an over-reaching strategy of claiming confidentiality of data that isn’t confidential (however is merely info that FirstEnergy seemingly prefers for Ohioans to not find out about concerning its conduct),” mentioned OCC’s April 28 filing.  

Earlier this spring FirstEnergy opposed participation within the FERC case by each OCC and the New Jersey Division of Price Counsel. FERC has but to rule on the state shopper advocates’ intervention and doc requests.

Settlements nonetheless up within the air

U.S. District Courtroom Decide Algenon Marbley gave a preliminary thumbs up to a deal to settle shareholder by-product claims. However he didn’t keep proceedings in different courts with comparable circumstances that may be settled by the deal introduced final winter. U.S. District Courtroom Decide John Adams, who presides in a kind of different circumstances, has mentioned he needs extra reality discovering, known as discovery, to maneuver forward earlier than he okays the deal.

That discovery consists of a number of depositions of present and former FirstEnergy executives below oath. However events have haggled over scheduling. Amongst different issues, FirstEnergy CEO Steven Strah’s questioning was postponed to an unknown date after firm attorneys objected that he could be vacationing in Cape Cod in late Might.

In the meantime, former FirstEnergy vp Michael Dowling, a defendant in multiple circumstances, has subpoenaed paperwork from Partners for Progress. That darkish cash group, led by FirstEnergy’s former lobbyist and others, gave $1.2 million in 2017 to 2 different dark money groups within the HB 6 scandal, Technology Now and the Coalition for Progress & Alternative.

FirstEnergy attorneys have recognized Dowling and former CEO Chuck Jones as having approved numerous funds. Though Dowling’s authorized technique isn’t recognized, the subpoena is perhaps an effort to help an argument that others misused funds for a bribe, versus dark money donations that match inside authorized loopholes below election legislation.

The shareholder by-product circumstances wouldn’t pay cash on to shareholders, as a result of their goal is to guard the company from wrongdoing by administrators and officers.  So, the settlement would offer FirstEnergy with roughly $180,000 million, primarily from insurers, after deducting charges for plaintiffs’ attorneys, whose shoppers sued on behalf of the corporate. Separate circumstances take care of shareholder claims for misplaced inventory worth or different damages.

Learn extra:

Political ripples

The Ohio Democratic Celebration additionally needs extra element about what involvement, if any, Gov. Mike DeWine had within the HB 6 scandal. Public information obtained by the group embody copies of DeWine’s calendars from 2019 onward. 

Nevertheless, widespread redactions and broad privilege claims make it onerous to find out whom DeWine met and spoke with on many events, the group alleges. Supplies produced to date even have a spot from June 16, 2020, till Might 2021. That covers the interval when Householder was arrested, Randazzo resigned and present PUCO Chair Jenifer French was appointed. 

On Might 5 the group asked the Franklin County Courtroom of Frequent Pleas to order extra disclosures. The court docket has not taken any motion but.

Renewed

The PUCO earlier this month approved Energy Harbor’s request to proceed working as a aggressive retail energy provider with no point out of the corporate’s function within the ongoing HB 6 corruption scandal. Energy Harbor is the successor to FirstEnergy Options following its chapter case, the place filings first confirmed a payment to Generation Now in 2019.

Energy Harbor’s preliminary renewal application on April 4 famous the chapter case however failed to say any of the HB 6-related circumstances wherein it’s a defendant, or the continuing federal investigation. The corporate added detail about a number of circumstances after an April 6 tweet by Dave Anderson of the Energy and Coverage Institute famous the omission. The PUCO’s approval got here three weeks later, with no opinion and no feedback within the file from employees.

“The entire thing appeared odd,” Anderson mentioned. “Right here was seemingly a chance for the PUCO to do a deeper investigation of this former affiliate firm.” 

The case raises the query of what substantive assessment, if any, the PUCO conducts and the way, if in any respect, alleged corruption points matter in relation to approving retail electrical energy suppliers.

Cleansing up

FirstEnergy’s ongoing corruption scandal has solid new mild on a deal that relieved the corporate of greater than $12 million in cleanup prices for a former coal plant. JobsOhio forgave the mortgage after FirstEnergy accomplished its work on the web site forward of a Dec. 2017 deadline. JobsOhio’s plan is for PTTGC America to construct a petrochemical cracker on the Belmont County web site, though the corporate has not but made a last dedication.

FirstEnergy transferred the property to PTTGC America, mentioned FirstEnergy spokesperson Mark Durbin. In the meantime, JobsOhio has spent $70 million on the positioning, $20 million of which was reimbursed by PTTGC, mentioned JobsOhio spokesperson Matt Englehart.

That work “included demolition of the power plant, environmental remediation, draining and filling of ponds that had been created by a former sand and gravel quarry, and grading and leveling the positioning,” Englehart mentioned. He didn’t say who negotiated the deal for FirstEnergy, noting that every one undertaking discussions are deemed confidential.

JobsOhio is a statutorily created corporation that works with the Division of Improvement to draw companies and jobs. It’s exempt from Ohio’s public records law. Funding comes from Ohio Liquor revenues.

“The plant demolition was fairly public, could be very outdated information, and cleaned up a web site of a grimy former coal plant to make it extra enticing to funding to convey jobs to the individuals of Ohio,” Englehart mentioned.

The deal issues as a result of it relieved FirstEnergy of environmental liabilities the corporate in any other case would have needed to pay. Plus, the construction of the deal shielded discussions by the corporate, JobsOhio and different concerned events from public scrutiny.

The environmental cleanup deal additionally meant FirstEnergy was arguably extra flush with money across the time that it and its associates started funding the alleged HB 6 scheme.

Learn extra: Before bribery scandal, JobsOhio forgave a $12M loan to FirstEnergy to clean up a coal plant (Ohio Capital Journal)





Source link

Continue Reading

Energy Efficiency

To avoid blackouts, California may tap fossil fuel plants

Published

on

To avoid blackouts, California may tap fossil fuel plants




To keep away from blackouts, California could faucet fossil gas vegetation





















Home AP News To keep away from blackouts, California could faucet fossil gas vegetation






Source link

Continue Reading

Energy Efficiency

DOE launches $500 million effort to turn mines into clean energy hubs

Published

on

DOE launches $500 million effort to turn mines into clean energy hubs




DOE launches $500 million effort to show mines into clear energy hubs


























Source link

Continue Reading

Energy Efficiency

DOE amends criteria for program to preserve nation’s nuclear fleet

Published

on

Study ordered on impact of Diablo Canyon nuclear shut down




DOE amends standards for program to protect nation’s nuclear fleet





















Home News DOE amends standards for program geared toward saving nation’s nuclear fleet








Source link

Continue Reading

Trending