Regulation - July 22, 2020
Ohio lawmaker charged with bribery in nuclear power plant bailout scheme
Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder was arrested and charged with bribery in federal court for a $61 million racketeering scheme that led to the passage of House Bill 6 in 2019 that would essentially bail out two northern Ohio nuclear power plants.
The legislation raises electric rates in Ohio, producing a $1.5 billion bailout for two nuclear power plants owned by a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., Utility Dive reported. The publication stated that this was the “largest bribery scheme involving Ohio public officials in at least a decade,” and included four high-powered Ohio political consultants in addition to the charge against Householder.
After the announcement of the arrests was released, FirstEnergy’s share price dropped 16.95% on the New York Stock Exchange. The energy company had previously gone under bankruptcy protection on March 31, 2018, and announced that they would close the power plants without a state or federal subsidy due to disruptions to the wholesale market because of the increased production of renewable energy.
“The legislative push to bail out legacy generation and roll back Ohio’s renewable energy commitments was always against the will of Ohioans, who overwhelmingly support renewable energy,” Andrew Gohn, the Eastern State Affairs Director at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), said in a statement. “It now appears that the passage of this bill was not just against the will of the people, but also may have involved serious and possibly criminal impropriety. We call for a full examination of the circumstances surrounding this attack on clean energy and for Gov. DeWine and the legislature to pause implementation of HB 6 and ultimately repeal this harmful and regressive legislation."
The investigation was alerted that Householder’s political organization was funding candidates for seats in the Ohio legislature in exchange for voting for FirstEnergy’s bailout. While the investigation is still ongoing, Householder and the consultants were charged by the government under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO statutes.
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