PUCO agrees to postpone FirstEnergy investigations

Larry Limpf

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has granted a request by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio to stay PUCO’s four ongoing investigations into FirstEnergy’s Ohio utilities and House Bill 6.
The decision by the PUCO postpones its investigations for six months.
“Throughout our four investigations, the commission has sought to balance two principles: one, the commission will follow the facts wherever they lead; and two, it is of the utmost importance that the commission’s investigations do not interfere with the DoJ’s ongoing criminal investigation, or the parallel civil action instituted by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost,” a statement by the PUCO says.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation in 2021 that repealed parts of House Bill 6 that was linked to a $60 million bribery and corruption scheme to help secure the bill’s passage.
The bill signed by Gov. DeWine, HB 128, ended the so-called bailout provision of nuclear power plants that became synonymous with HB 6.
HB 6 created the state’s Clean Energy Program but the subsidies for coal and nuclear plants drew intense criticism from environmentalists and others.
“The United States understands that substantial discovery is underway in the PUCO proceedings, including written discovery for depositions of numerous individuals and entities,” the letter from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker to the PUCO says. “The PUCO proceedings involve issues related to the United State’s investigation, and the United States believes that continued discovery in the PUCO proceedings may directly interfere with or impede the United States’ ongoing investigation.”
The letter states that a trial for two persons who’ve been indicted is scheduled to start in January 2023.
Those two are Larry Householder, former Republican Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, and Matt Borges, a lobbyist.
Three other persons and a corporate entity registered as a non-profit organization were also indicted.
According to court documents, from March 2017 to March 2020, the enterprise of individuals received millions of dollars in exchange for their help in passing HB 6. They also allegedly worked to ensure HB 6 went into effect by defeating a ballot initiative that would have, if passed, overturned the bill. The enterprise received approximately $60 million into the non-profit organization from FirstEnergy companies.


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