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.
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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