FirstEnergy to be audited by Ohio regulators

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio announced Wednesday that it is auditing a charge billed to customers by Ohio’s largest electric company, FirstEnergy, which is engulfed in scandal after being accused of secretly funding a $60 million bribery scheme to get a bailout passed in the state Legislature.

The FirstEnergy charge to be audited, called a distribution modernization rider, was billed to customers from January 2017 through July 2, 2019. The charge was intended to support the utilities’ efforts to pursue grid modernization investments.

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Two separate PUCO proceedings regarding political and charitable spending by FirstEnergy’s Ohio electric distribution utilities, and a review of the utilities’ compliance with Ohio’s corporate separation laws remain ongoing.

PUCO has jurisdiction over FirstEnergy’s three electric distribution utilities: Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison.

Separately, Associated Press reported the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday issued a temporary stay to stop collection of a fee from nearly every electric customer in the state starting Jan. 1 to subsidize two nuclear power plants, a provision included in the scandal-tainted House Bill 6.

In July U.S. Attorney David DeVillers alleged that former speaker Larry Householder and four associates took more than $60 million secretly funded by Akron-based FirstEnergy and filtered through nonprofit groups and used the money to put Householder in power and then pass and defend House Bill 6, a controversial energy bailout law.

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