Everyone’s help is needed to move the foot-dragging Ohio Legislature to repeal HB6
Button that says STOP First Energy

·       Use this link to send an AddUp email to your Ohio Representative, Senator, and Governor DeWine. 

·       Make an easy call to your State Senator using this handy Sierra Club number: 855-980-2397.  OR simply text HB6 to 69866

·       House Reps and Senators need to be engaged on social media!  Use this spreadsheet to make calls and social media posts to the legislators that supported HB6 but have not signed on to a repeal bill. Please also use the #RepealHB6 hashtag so others can find and amplify your actions.  

·       Avoid Energy Harbor when you choose your electric supplier. Your supplier is listed on the back of your electric bill. Go to the PUCO Apples to Apples Electric Comparison Chart and see your supplier choices.

Even though nuclear power has a BIG carbon footprint, continues producing life-destroying radioactive waste, costs more money and creates fewer jobs than renewables, and is NOT appropriate in a warming climate – that is not the main message that our legislators need to hear.  They want to change the argument to the merits of nuclear power, which were thoroughly discussed during the debate over the passage of HB6. The first message they need to hear is that they should not be giving ratepayer money – in Covid times when many are struggling to pay for food and rent – to a deceitful, corrupt organization. One that is so mismanaged that they had to declare bankruptcy 20 years after receiving $9 billion (with a B) in stranded costs when Ohio’s utilities were deregulated.  

The infamous HB6, passed by one vote in July 2019, gave the Akron-based utility FirstEnergy $1.3 billion of ratepayer money – to spend as they please. HB6 was nominally to aid FirstEnergy’s financial woes surrounding its 2 Ohio nuclear plants as well as 2 coal plants, one of which is in Indiana! As if that wasn’t enough, the legislature also undercut FirstEnergy’s competition by including the gutting Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards in the bill.     

Arrests: Almost exactly a year after HB6 passage, Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and 4 co-conspirators were arrested and charged with racketeering in, according to the U.S. Attorney, “The largest bribery and money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio."

Those involved: Charges maintain that “Company A,” known to be FirstEnergy, was the principal donor toa charitable organization called Generation Now, which was illegally controlled by Householder. Over $60 million was funneled through Generation Now, as far back as the 2018 Republican primaries, where Householder gave money to candidates who agreed to bail out FirstEnergy. According to charges, 20 other Ohio Republican state legislators also benefitted from the illegal funds, though they can likely claim plausible deniability.  Both Republican and Democrat legislators have also benefitted from small to large legal FirstEnergy PAC donations over the years.  In addition, there is a long string of FirstEnergy connections to people in Governor Mike DeWine’s office, including former FirstEnergy lobbyists. DeWine has received numerous donations from FirstEnergy and Generation Now. He has since donated money received from Generation Now to food banks. He is anxious to repeal and replace HB6.

Illegal repeal money: Even more money was passed through Generation Now to oppose an HB6 repeal effort. TV and newspaper ads and mailers threatened that a repeal meant a Chinese takeover of Ohio’s electric grid.  A fake petition drive was created to confuse people.  Repeal signature gatherers were harassed and/or paid to not turn in their signatures. Since the arrests, it has been revealed that most of the large petition-gathering companies in Ohio were paid by Generation Now to not collect repeal signatures.

Was FirstEnergy really losing money on nuclear? FirstEnergy put most of its liabilities into FirstEnergy Solutions, its affiliate that owned the dangerously-aging Davis-Besse and Perry reactors.  FirstEnergy Solutions then went into bankruptcy, coming out as Energy Harbor.  FirstEnergy itself is now an electric distribution company only, with no connection to Energy Harbor –  so FirstEnergy no longer has liability for the reactors.  And Energy Harbor is a Limited Liability Corporation, LLC.   

How was First Energy Solutions allowed to come out of bankruptcy if they could not be solvent? Though probed, Energy Harbor still won’t say whether its nuclear plants are profitable. On May 8, 2020, Energy Harbor announced they were adding $300 million to their annual share buyback, which makes a total of $800 million that the company is putting into share buybacks this year. So that is where the bailout money is going, apparently not needed for operations.

Other recent HB6 publicity: Ohio’s Attorney General David Yost filed suit to block FirstEnergy from receiving payments from HB6.  Read the damning suit hereThe suit, however, won’t stop ratepayers from paying the increased electric fees. According to a new report by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, 67% of low-income households face a high energy burdenwhich disproportionately affects people of color.

After much pushing and prodding, the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has launched a probe into First Energy’s political and charitable contributions. At the same time, the PUCO has declined to hire an independent auditor to review HB6 spending.

The legislature is hoping the HB6 issue will go away, with the election looming. For many reasons, Ohio can’t afford to let that happen.