The calls to repeal Ohio’s corrupt power plant bailouts are loud and clear. Here’s what leading voices are saying about Ohio’s biggest bribery scheme in history and why legislators must repeal H.B. 6.
It’s been over three months since the news hit – Ohio’s Speaker of the House and energy lobbyists are entangled in a $61 million bribery case involving a billion-dollar, customer-funded power plant bailout. If Ohio legislators don’t act, local families and businesses will pay for the corrupt legislation via monthly electric bill hikes starting January 1, 2021.
The new law will require ratepayers to pay approximately $1 billion over the course of six years to prop up two already profitable nuclear plants. That amounts to a forecasted $7 increase in monthly energy bills at a time when voters say they face increased financial uncertainty and don’t want to pay to support power plant bailouts.
You can be another voice urging Ohio to do the right thing and end corrupt power plant bailouts. Sign the petition today.
The Competitive Choice
The Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA) and competitive power suppliers providing over 8,200 MW of power generation to Ohio advocated against H.B. 6 during its passage and called early on for its repeal this July. EPSA’s member companies rely on competitive power markets for revenue – not bailouts or ratepayer bill increases to pay for their operations or struggling plants. Today, wholesale power prices for Ohio customers are at historically low levels, with low-cost, low-emitting natural gas and increasingly competitive renewable resources able to serve the state’s electricity needs.
“Rather than let the market provide the best outcomes for energy customers, and against the warnings and complaints from almost all corners, money and political influence won the day and helped secure passage of Ohio House Bill 6… It is time for the state to repeal H. B. 6 and do right by the citizens of Ohio. If HB 6 is allowed to remain in effect, it will legitimize what is alleged to be a corrupt legislative process. Ohio citizens deserve better,” said EPSA President and CEO Todd Snitchler, a former Ohio lawmaker and chief utility regulator.
We’re not alone. Here’s what voices from Columbus to D.C. to New York have to say about Ohio’s biggest scandal in history and why legislators must repeal H.B. 6.
Bribery Probe Into a Nuclear Plant Bailout Examines Facilities’ Owner:“If they had that much money to reward their hedge fund managers, how on earth could they come to us and ask us to bail them out?” said Ohio state Rep. Laura Lanese, who this summer co-sponsored legislation to repeal the subsidy.
Opinion: When Utility Money Talks: “The billion-dollar bailout of one of Ohio’s biggest utilities seemed suspicious from the start. It turns out the F.B.I. was paying attention, too… Taken together, these and other cases demonstrate that too many power and gas companies have sought to exercise undue influence over the governments that nominally control them.” – Justin Gillis, contributing opinion writer and former environmental reporter for The Times.
Fix the sausage factory – repeal corrupt H.B. 6 bailouts: “Illegal conduct, intimidation, and bribery in place of fair competition and sound policy making should never be tolerated. We must send a strong signal to the public that corruption will not stand. Repeal H.B. 6 and only then consider how to address energy policy. The people of Ohio deserve nothing less.” – Todd Snitchler, president and CEO of EPSA.
Competition can help stop utility abuse: “A $60 million bribery scandal has rocked Ohio’s political scene, leading to criminal charges against the powerful House speaker and other politicians involving a brazen scheme to pad the pockets of a major nuclear energy company.” – Todd Snitchler, president and CEO of EPSA.
Ohio AG files lawsuit to stop money flowing from HB 6: “House Bill 6 does a lot more than bail out the nukes,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. “Many people in the marketplace have made decisions over the past year based on that legislation. All of those things are intertwined with repealing and replacing HB 6. The fact of the matter is this is going to require some serious skull sweat to unwind it in an appropriate and fair manner that doesn’t create more victims.”
Ohio committee deliberates bills to repeal House Bill 6: “We can craft a free-market based comprehensive energy policy that includes nuclear, natural gas, oil, solar, wind, and any future energy breakthroughs that will make our constituents proud,” state Rep. Laura Lanese, R-Grove City, said in testimony for a hearing. “But we can’t quickly do it on the back of HB 6. We must do it with transparency, integrity and a more comprehensive approach. After we repeal HB 6.”
Opinion: Nuclear bailout corruption kills public trust and competition: “HB 6 should have never happened. But because of greed, it was secretly conceived through alleged corruption via the Ohio legislature rather than what should have been settled through a private bankruptcy process. An intimidating monopoly and indicted politician stand accused of perverting the legislative process with some $60 million spent to shift the billion-dollar subsidy from shareholders to Ohioans.” – Curt Morgan, CEO of Vistra Corp. and Chairman of EPSA’s Board.
Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder arrested in $60 million bribery case: “This is likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio,” said U.S. Attorney David DeVillers, whose office will lead the prosecution of the case. “This was bribery, plain and simple. This was a quid pro quo. This was pay to play.”
Editorial: House Bill 6 money trail needs a closer look: The entire affair was malodorous from the beginning. Then in July, the U.S. District Attorney for Southern Ohio announced federal racketeering charges against now former-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four associates, alleging that they conspired to illegally use contributions primarily from an entity identified as “Company A,” believed to be FirstEnergy, to maintain political control of the legislature in support of passing and protecting HB 6. That investigation continues. … Now Attorney General Dave Yost has sued to keep HB 6 fees from going to Energy Harbor and prevent FirstEnergy from contributing to legislative campaigns. Electric utility ratepayers across the state deserve answers regarding the money trail behind HB 6.
Editorial: Still plenty of HB 6 nonsense to be sorted out: Now, while many are calling for HB 6 to be repealed, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, a ratepayers’ watchdog, wants the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to audit FirstEnergy to determine whether any of the $60 million that fueled Generation Now came, improperly, from ratepayer funds collected for a specific purpose. We second the OCC’s motion. The PUCO has earned a reputation for favoring utilities over consumers; it could counter that by taking a good look at some highly questionable dealings.
Editorial: HB 6 came from corruption; repeal should be simple: It is frustrating but not surprising that nearly a month after multiple bills to repeal House Bill 6 were introduced in the Ohio General Assembly, little progress has been made. … It needn’t be this complicated. The reason repeal is even being considered — the bill’s corrupt origins — is simple and won’t change. … Our view remains that the bill was supremely bad policy: a dubious bailout of two nuclear power plants and the unconscionable sabotage of Ohio’s already-weak support and incentives for clean alternative energy. It would have been a bad bill without the corruption.
Lengthy repeal process for House Bill 6 frustrates critic: “The real reason we should get this off the books is the bill is the root of corruption,” said Randi Leppla, Ohio Environmental Council vice president of energy policy and the group’s lead energy counsel. “This is no way to run energy policy in this state.”
“The process was corrupt from the start,” Ms. Leppla said. “This is not unique to Ohio. We’re just one of the crazy examples now.”
Editorial: Repeal of HB6 needed to restore trust: Ohio legislators are right to be furious about the way they were manipulated into taking $150 million per year out of their constituents’ pockets to benefit two nuclear power plants. … But — and we mean this as no defense of the despicable characters involved in the alleged bribery scheme — the situation is complicated. Some believe merely repealing HB 6 in total would not be a good thing. That’s because the HB6 measure included a variety of other provisions, including promotion of renewable energy… Ohioans have no reason to have faith that this legislation can be “fixed,” particularly when it stems from such improper influences. State lawmakers must move immediately to repeal House Bill 6 in its entirety. And then they can start over from scratch.
Ohio Lawmakers Miss a Deadline in HB6 Repeal Attempt: “Because HB6 was created through the largest bribery scandal in the state of Ohio, we need to send a message loud and clear that these people will not get their ill-gotten gains,” says Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus).
Ohio House Speaker, former chair of Ohio Republican Party, 3 other individuals & 501(c)(4) entity charged in federal public corruption racketeering conspiracy involving $60 million: “All forms of public corruption are unacceptable,” stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman. “When the corruption is alleged to reach some of the highest levels of our state government, the citizens of Ohio should be shocked and appalled.”
Opinion: Energy Corruption Not Just an Ohio Problem, It Is a Monopoly Problem: This problem then is not one that is native to Ohio. In fact, it is an issue that has reared its head in local, state and even federal levels of government for a long time. The problem stems from what economist Friedrich Hayek called “regulatory capture.” The regulations guiding utility behavior are so onerous that the utility itself becomes the expert and is largely trusted by legislators and public service commissions to steer policy. Clearly, this approach is inadvisable — largely because it ignores the fact that the goal of a monopoly is not to serve customers, rather, it is to perpetuate and protect the monopoly and increase profits for shareholders. – Mark Pischea, president and CEO of the Conservative Energy Network.
Electric Competition: The Antidote for Bad Behavior: “The Illinois and Ohio utility scandals highlight the flaws of letting electric monopolies mingle in competitive markets. State reforms need to isolate monopolies to distribution systems and enable competitive markets to provide all power generation and retail services,” writes director of energy and environmental policy Devin Hartman and senior fellow Mike Haugh.