FirstEnergy Agrees to - Smart Energy Decisions

July 23, 2021

FirstEnergy Agrees to $230M Settlement in Ohio Bribery Case

Akron-based electric utility FirstEnergy will pay a $230 million fine for bribing Ohio officials to secure a $1 billion ratepayer-funded bailout for two nuclear plants and attempt to fend off future rate hikes.

The $230 million fine will be split equally between federal and state governments, reported. The $115 million to go to Ohio will be paid into a program that helps Ohio residents pay their utility bills.

The 49-page agreement explains how FirstEnergy spent millions of dollars on key public officials to pass House Bill 6 in 2019 securing the nuclear bailout and securing money for FirstEnergy through a decoupling provision. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) later that year ended the requirement that FirstEnergy’s subsidiaries file a new rate case in 2024.

FirstEnergy was found to have donated $59 million to Generation Now, a dark money group owned by Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, securing its alliance for bailing out the nuclear plants and squashing a campaign that was in opposition to the law. FirstEnergy then donated $2 million to Householder’s attempts at expanding term limits, which would have extended his time in office by 16 years.

The utility was also found to have paid $4.3 million to former PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo for a say in crafting the language used in HB6 and to garner favor in passing the legislation.

First Energy will also be required to disclose all political donations made during 2021 and for the three years of the agreement. Additionally, it will be required to forfeit nearly $6.5 million in the account of Partners for Progress, a dark money group the utility established in 2017.

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