Energy funds continue to flow to state legislators in a corruption scandal

Withdrawing energy money from Ohio politics will require more than a bribery scandal on a historic scale.

The Campaign Finance Report, filed late last week, shows that the campaign donation pipeline from natural gas and utilities to Ohio’s campaign account is alive and well. The majority went to Republicans, who have good control over the Legislature.

By its passage, even among companies that have benefited from House Bill 6 or are facing scrutiny associated with it. Expulsion, prosecution, and looming trial of former Ohio House chairman; Three Related plea and denial of charges from lobbyists and a dark money non-profit organization for extortion; When Arrangement with a prosecutor similar to the plea of ​​guilty from First Energy Corp. — Donations continue to flow.

For example, HB6 Relief funded by payers of two coal-fired power plants in Ohio and Indiana, Owned by a cooperative called Ohio Valley Electric Corporation.

The capital of these power plants is split into utilities such as American Electric Power (43%), Buckeye Power (18%), Duke Energy (9%) and Dayton Power & Light Company (4.9%).The law imposes a monthly fee on all residential and industrial payers to support a failed coal-fired power plant — with a $ 114 million worth of relief in 2020 alone. Estimated $ 700 million for owners Until 2030.

Between January 1st and July 31st, AEP donated $ 60,500 to Republican state legislators and Governor Mike Dewin. CEO Nick Akins donated $ 5,000 to DeWine. Four other AEP executives also gave DeWine a total of $ 5,500.

The company has not been charged with crimes related to HB6. However, it was announced earlier this year. Received relevant subpoena from US Securities and Exchange Commission.. According to the company’s tax records and statements, AEP was the only nonprofit funder to donate $ 700,000 to Generation Now.Current generation Convicted of its role in the plot He agreed to confiscate $ 1.5 million to the government.

Among other OVEC shareholders: Buckeye Power has donated $ 41,200 to lawmakers, primarily Republicans. Duke Energy has donated $ 21,000 primarily to Republicans. DP & L, now known as AES Ohio, has donated $ 10,000 to Republicans.

FirstEnergy — Last week, federal prosecutors gave $ 61 million and $ 4.3 million to Generation Now, which is secretly controlled by Householders. Former PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo with legal and regulatory incentives — No donations have been reported so far in 2021. Randazzo has not been charged with a crime and remains innocent in a statement last week.

In addition to utilities, the natural gas industry has invested heavily in the General Assembly as candidates are preparing for the 2022 elections.

NiSource, a natural gas company and parent of Columbus, Ohio, has donated nearly $ 62,000 to nearly $ 62,000 to Republicans.

Dominion Energy, a natural gas company, has donated more than $ 26,000 to Republicans in Ohio.

Ohio-based natural gas company IGS Energy has donated $ 23,000 to Republicans in Ohio.

In addition, Marathon Oil gave lawmakers $ 21,000, and almost everything was given to Republicans. The company’s chief financial officer also donated $ 10,000 to DeWine.

Industry wins

The fossil fuel company has won two major legislative victories so far in 2021. Meanwhile, the utility that owns the OVEC plant has so far blocked voting on legislation to abolish subsidies.

At midnight, the last legislative session before summer vacation, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 52. County Commissioners have created a new mechanism that can kill wind and solar projects early in development.. Commissioners can also block potential wind or solar projects in all or part of the unincorporated area of ​​the county.

The Commissioner does not have such authority over the construction of natural gas plants and pipelines regulated by the Ohio Electricity Location Commission.

Election funding data shows how industry funding was concentrated in the Senate. The energy industry PAC has given the Republican Senate Election Campaign Committee $ 37,500 and Senate Presidents Matt Huffman and R-Lima $ 27,500. Senator Rob McCollie, Senator R-Napoleon, lead sponsor of SB 52 and chairman of the Senate Energy and Public Utility Commission, received $ 13,500.

Huffman and McCollie did not respond to inquiries.

Also this summer, lawmakers passed bill 201, which prohibits local governments from issuing laws and zoning codes. “Restrict, ban, or prevent” Because people and businesses receive natural gas and propane services. Major cities around the United States have enacted or proposed the following measures: Ban or prevent the use of fossil fuels in new homes and buildings, According to The Wall Street Journal. Berkeley, California passed the first gas ban in 2019.

Proponents of both bills rejected comparisons between seemingly contradictory concepts — county commissioners could abandon the development of solar farms but limit the connection of new homes to gas lines. You cannot pass the law.

Last winter, lawmakers abolished the massive bailouts of two nuclear power plants previously owned by a subsidiary of FirstEnergy under pressure from an intensifying householder scandal. This is an important clause of HB6. Eliminate separate “decoupling” clauses worth millions for the company..

However, the OVEC grant remains in the books.

legislation Pending by Senate Energy and Public Utility Commission Relief to OVEC coal-fired power plants will be abolished. The bill has not yet been voted on by the committee, which means a victory for shareholders who continue to collect the bill.

What the company said

The Ohio Capital Journal contacted the companies listed in this article and asked why they donated.

“The Dominion Energy Politician Action Committee is using only funds donated by employees to provide financial support to Ohio candidates on a bipartisan basis,” the company said in a statement. .. “A penny doesn’t come from a customer’s bill. Dominion Energy employs 1,600 people and provides a safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service to 1.2 million customers in Ohio. Is provided. “

Duke Energy spokeswoman Sally Teren said the company believes it should actively engage in the political process of shaping energy to represent its customers, communities and shareholders.

“We enable the ability to safely provide increasingly clean energy solutions at reliable, affordable prices and support civil servants who support policies that are an effective voice in key policy decisions. We will continue to strengthen this principle, “she said.

“And a unique agenda that is as active (if not more) as we are in politics and is not always in the best interests of our company and our stakeholders. It’s important to remember that some people are insisting on. “

AEP spokeswoman Tammy Redout said the company will use PACs to participate in political processes and involve lawmakers on issues that affect their ability to provide reliable and affordable energy to their customers. ..

“Participating in the political process ensures that we can hear our voices about issues that are important to our customers, shareholders, employees and the company,” she said. “PAC is dedicated to understanding and working with candidates for public office to understand and address solutions to issues that are important to AEP and the energy industry.”

NiSource spokesman Christopher Garland said the company’s PAC is voluntary and complies with both company policy and related election funding laws.

“We strive to educate civil servants about the impact of our business and potential policy decisions,” he said.

Marathon spokesman Jamal Cary said the company’s PAC will support lawmakers in support of policies that “work on affordable and reliable energy availability to improve quality of life.” ..

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Energy funds continue to flow to state legislators in a corruption scandal

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