Connect the Dots with a Trail of Money Between FirstEnergy and Ohio Legislators

COLUMBUS –  “Profits? Fine. But excessive profits don’t seem to be enough for FirstEnergy. The budget bill passed by the Ohio House ensures that the state law regulating aptly called the Significantly Excessive Earnings Test (SEET) is even more favorable,” said Catherine Turcer, Executive Director of Common Cause Ohio. “Frankly, Ohio consumers should be seething because it doesn’t seem as if our legislators care about our utility costs.”

Ohio electric utilities are regulated and in 2008 SEET was developed as a test to determine when FirstEnergy’s profits became so high that they triggered making changes to benefit consumers. Last week, the Ohio House passed the State Operating Budget with an amendment allowing FirstEnergy’s three distribution utilities to be treated as one.

“FirstEnergy wants to change the rules and hide or spread out profits so that they could keep them. It’s a bit like that old flim-flam three-card monte. FirstEnergy wants to shuffle things around and doesn’t want  Ohio consumers to catch on. The problem is that the legislators that we sent to represent us understand the game,” Turcer said.

So how does FirstEnergy manage to bend the ear of legislators?

  • During the last two election cycles (2015-2018), FirstEnergy’s political action committee (PAC) and employees contributed over $1.2 million to legislative and statewide candidates, including contributions to candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court.
  • During the 2018 election cycle, the FirstEnergy PAC hit the primary and general election campaign contribution limits by contributing $25,415.58 to Larry Householder’s campaign committee Friends of Householder.
  • In the last two election cycles, FirstEnergy’s Political Action Committee (PAC) and employees contributed over $1.2 million to legislative and statewide candidates including contributions to candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court.”
  • See more in Connect the Dots

And FirstEnergy isn’t content with significantly excessive profits, they want more. Ohio legislators are currently considering even more handouts:

  • The Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants, owned by FirstEnergy Solutions is currently going through bankruptcy.  House Bill 6 provides FirstEnergy with over $170 million per year, a windfall to bail out Ohio’s two aging nuclear power plants, separate and apart from the bankruptcy filing.

FirstEnergy also has an important request before the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO):

  • In 2016, the PUCO granted FirstEnergy a $612 million modernization rider that does not commit any funds to modernize FirstEnergy’s grid. FirstEnergy recently asked for a two-year extension of the original rider (which expires in December 2019). The decision is currently pending at the commission.

Link to campaign contribution information

Link to the study