When a consumer pays their utility bill, they’re not just paying for their lights. Part of what they pay for is for the political endeavors of the utility companies.
Ohio has learned the hard way that this can lead to schemes, said Karen Nordstrom of the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund.
“House Bill 6 showed how Ohio utilities spent our money to increase their power and enact policies against our best interest,” she added.
The jury found that former GOP leader Matt Borges participated, beyond a reasonable doubt, in the largest public corruption case in state history, a racketeering scheme that led to the conviction of four men and the death of another by suicide.
Householder passed a nearly $61 million plan to pass a billion-dollar bailout, House Bill 6, at taxpayer expense and to the benefit of his own pockets.
The convicted felon was sentenced in late June to 20 years in federal prison. After two weeks in prison, the homeowner filed an appeal.
HB 6 primarily benefited FirstEnergy’s struggling nuclear power plants, the provisions of which were later overturned. However, remaining aspects of the bill remain in effect.
The Ohio Valley Electric Company (OVEC) also received a grant from the scandal. It expanded the bailout of OVEC plants and asked Ohioans to pay for it. The main beneficiaries were American Electric Power Company (AEP), Duke Energy, and AES Ohio.
The scandal was covered extensively by News 5, which followed the legislation all the way through the Statehouse, arrests, trial, conviction and sentencing.
State Sen. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) decided to introduce two different bills to keep corruption at bay.
“This is about fixing the system in Ohio that led to the House Bill 6 scandal,” he said. “This is about status general Back in public facilities in Ohio.
SB 149 would prohibit public utilities from spending taxpayer money for political purposes, such as lobbying for legislation beneficial to their company.
SB 151, also sponsored by state Sen. Hercel Craig (D-Columbus) and co-sponsored by state Sen. Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario), would eliminate subsidies from the HB 6 scandal. It would prevent Ohioans from paying for two coal plants dating back to 1950s era – one set in Indiana.
But Smith faces an uphill battle.
“This issue is over from a legislative standpoint,” House Speaker Jason Stevens (R-Kitts Hill) said in July. “We’ve decided that.”
The spokesperson explained that in the previous General Assembly part of HB 6 was repealed, but lawmakers chose to keep the coal plant money.
“The Committee thoroughly examined HB 6 in the 133rd General Assembly,” the spokesperson added.
Then in the 134th General Assembly, lawmakers passed HB 128 — which allocated funding for nuclear power plants.
A bipartisan group in the House has the same repeal bill, but it is stuck because Stevens doesn’t want to repeal it. The factory is in his area.
Click or tap here to read about the ongoing drama in the Ohio House over OVEC plants.
Statehouse reporter Morgan Trouw asked Smith if his bill could pass because of the main roadblock, Stevens.
“There are 131 other members of the General Assembly who should care for their constituents with the same degree of passion with which the Speaker of the House cares for his constituents,” Smith responded.
Senate Bill 150
Smith also introduced a third bill – SB 150.
This bill would prevent utility companies from cutting off power to vulnerable people.
These are the people or groups who will apply:
- Any family with a child aged five years or younger
- Any household with a person aged 65 or over
- Household income is less than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines
And also people who:
- you have a disability
- You have a disease
- Currently pregnant
There will be necessary disclosure and medical certification requirements.
Currently, Ohio has two different prohibitions on disconnecting utilities: a 30-day medical certification that you can obtain three times within a 12-month period or during the winter heating season from November 1 to April 15.
News 5 reached out to FirstEnergy, AEP and OVEC about the legislation. Only FirstEnergy responded.
“FirstEnergy is committed to supporting policies that benefit our customers and employees and that are consistent with the company’s core values and responsibilities to our stakeholders,” company spokesman Will Buie said.
They were specifically asked how often they stopped services for vulnerable people and what their thoughts were on the possibility of not stopping services. Boye did not have detailed information.
“While we are unable to provide specific data, we are following all state requirements regarding service outages,” he said. “Termination of service is always a last resort, and we encourage customers who are having difficulty paying their bills to contact us to discuss payment options and assistance that can help them avoid service interruptions.”
He follows WEWS State House reporter Morgan Trouw Twitter And Facebook.
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