Ohio AG files suit to block HB 6 fees

By Larry Limpf

News Editor
A second lawsuit to block Energy Harbor, the successor to FirstEnergy Solutions, from receiving revenues generated by House Bill 6, has been filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
The lawsuit was filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to prevent the company from collecting fees from the bill that includes provisions to bail out two financially strapped nuclear power plants operated by FirstEnergy Solutions, which went into bankruptcy and emerged as Energy Harbor.
“The people of Ohio are about to be shaken down for money they should not have to pay based on how HB 6 was enacted,” Yost said. “There is no process in place to return the money to residents once it leaves their accounts – so why take it?”
Passed by the state legislature in 2019, the bill requires each electric distribution utility to collect a monthly charge from retail electric customers in Ohio beginning Jan. 1, 2021 and ending Dec. 31, 2027. The collections are set to produce $150 million annually for disbursements from a Nuclear Generation Fund; and $20 million annually for disbursements from a Renewable Generation Fund.
In his complaint, Yost argues the bill was “crafted and approved under corrupt and cloaked actions.”
In September, he filed a civil lawsuit to prevent Energy Harbor from receiving the funds. Without last week’s filing, the nuclear generation fees could still be collected from Ohioans but then held in limbo during litigation, he said.
Yost is asking the court to approve an injunction against the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority and the state treasurer’s office, which would have roles in the disbursements.

Guilty pleas
Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, and Juan Cespedes, 41, of Columbus, have each pleaded guilty to participating in a racketeering conspiracy involving more than $60 million paid to a 501(c)(4) entity to pass House Bill 6.
Longstreth and Cespedes are two of five persons, including Larry Householder, the former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, charged in a criminal complaint and indicted by a federal grand jury in July.
Charging documents allege Householder, 61, Glenford, Oh., Matthew Borges, 48, of Bexley, Oh., Neil Clark, 67, Columbus, Longstreth and Cespedes conspired to violate racketeering statutes through wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering. Generation Now, the 501(c)(4) entity, was also charged.
According to court documents, from March 2017 to March 2020, millions of dollars were funneled to Householder and others in exchange for their help in passing HB 6.
The defendants then also allegedly worked to ensure the bill went into effect by helping to defeat a ballot initiative that would have given voters a chance to overturn the legislation.
The bill requires the state treasurer to distribute money from the nuclear generation and renewable generation funds according to directions set by the air quality development authority.

Repeal bill hearing
State Rep. Mark Romanchuk, R-Ontario) recently provided sponsor testimony before the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee on House Bill 772, which seeks to repeal HB 6.
Rep. Romanchuk told committee members the focus of House Bill 6 was to provide a subsidy to the owners of two nuclear plants to maintain operations.
“The $150 million annual nuclear subsidy from Ohioans was never needed to sustain the operation of the two Ohio nuclear plants,” he said.
Rep. Romanchuk was also scheduled to testify on his bill Nov. 19 before the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight.


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