Deal with FirstEnergy over HB6 to save consumers $102M

FirstEnergy Corp. agreed to give up financial benefits it would have received under a controversial energy law — a move that will save Ohio consumers $102 million this year, said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on Monday.

Yost filed a civil lawsuit to block FirstEnergy from collecting “decoupling” revenues and halt Energy Harbor Corp. from collecting subsidies to bail out its two nuclear power plants.

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Yost won a preliminary injunction against collection of the nuclear subsidies and agreement from Akron-based FirstEnergy that it would ask the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to set its decoupling rider at zero.

Between the two actions, Ohio consumers will save nearly $2 billion, Yost said. “We are talking about a lot of money here,” he said.

Efforts to repeal or replace House Bill 6, which became law in October 2019, have stalled in the Ohio General Assembly.

The law requires payments by customers across Ohio:

  • $1.3 billion to subsidize nuclear power plants owned by Energy Harbor, through 2027;
  • $444 million to subsidize coal plants owned by Ohio Valley Electric Corp. through 2030;
  • $355 million in decoupling revenues to FirstEnergy through 2024; and
  • $140 million in subsidies for large solar projects though 2027.
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In July, federal agents arrested then Ohio House speaker Larry Householder and four associates. Prosecutors allege they ran a $60 million racketeering and bribery scheme that used money from Ohio utilities to make Householder speaker, and then pass and defend House Bill 6.

In October, two of the associates — lobbyist Juan Cespedes and Householder political strategist Jeff Longstreth — agreed to plead guilty, and FirstEnergy fired its chief executive and two senior vice presidents.

In November, FirstEnergy disclosed that the executives were fired in part because they failed to tell the board of directors about a $4 million payment to end a consulting agreement with someone who was later appointed as a state regulator over utilities.

FBI agents also raided the home of then PUCO chairman Sam Randazzo in November. Randazzo later resigned as Ohio’s top utility regulator.

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