In a corruption scandal, energy money continues to flow to state legislators

It takes more than a historic bribery scandal to pull energy money out of Ohio politics.

The campaign financial report, filed late last week, shows the campaign’s fundraising 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 passing it even to companies that benefited from House Bill 6 or are related to it. Expulsion, charges and impending trial of former Ohio House chairman; Three related pleadings and rejection of charges by lobbyists and a charitable black money organization for extortion; If agreed with a prosecutor, First Energy Corp.’s admission of guilt is similar to – Donations continue to flow.

For example, HB6 Relief, funded by the 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 divided into utility companies such as American Electric Power (43%), Buckeye Power (18%), Duke Energy (9%), and Dayton Power & Light Company (4.9%). The law requires a monthly fee on all private and industrial payers to support a failed coal-fired power plant – with relief worth $ 114 million in 2020 alone. An estimated $ 700 million for owners by 2030.

Between January 1 and July 31, AEP donated $ 60,500 to Republican lawmakers 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 HB6-related crimes. However, this was announced earlier this year. Received a subpoena from the SEC. According to the company’s tax records and filings, AEP was the only nonprofit donor to donate $ 700,000 to Generation Now to the government.

Among other OVEC shareholders: Buckeye Power donated $ 41,200 to lawmakers, mostly Republicans. Duke Energy donated $ 21,000 primarily to Republicans. DP&L, now known as AES Ohio, 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 prepare for the 2022 elections.

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

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

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

Additionally, Marathon Oil gave lawmakers $ 21,000, and almost everything was given to Republicans. The company’s CFO also donated $ 10,000 to DeWine.

Industry wins

The fossil fuel company has had two major legislative victories so far in 2021. In the meantime, the utility that owns the OVEC facility has so far blocked the vote on laws to abolish subsidies.

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

The Commissioner has no such authority over the construction of natural gas facilities and pipelines regulated by the Ohio Electricity Location Commission.

Election funding data shows how industry funding has been concentrated in the Senate. The Energy PAC has donated $ 37,500 to the Senate Election Committee and $ 27,500 to Senate Presidents Matt Huffman and R-Lima. Senator Rob McCollie, Senator R-Napoleon, main sponsor of SB 52 and chairman of the Senate Energy and Utilities Commission, received $ 13,500.

Huffman and McCollie did not respond to requests.

Also that summer, lawmakers passed Bill 201 banning local governments from enacting laws and zoning ordinances. “Restrict, Prohibit, or Prevent” Because people and businesses receive natural gas and propane services. Major cities in the United States have enacted or proposed the following measures: Banning or preventing 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 opposed comparisons between apparently contradicting concepts – district officials could abandon the development of solar parks, but limit the connection of new houses to gas pipes. You can’t pass the law.

Last winter, under the pressure of a worsening budget scandal, the legislature abolished the massive rescue operations for two nuclear power plants that previously belonged to a subsidiary of FirstEnergy. This is an important clause of HB6. Abolition of separate “decoupling clauses” in the millions for the company.

However, the OVEC scholarship stays on the books.

Legislation pending on Senate Energy and Utilities Commission support for OVEC coal-fired power plants will be abolished. The bill has not yet been voted on by the committee, which is a victory for shareholders who keep moving the bill.

What the company said

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

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

Duke Energy spokeswoman Sally Teren said the company believes it should get actively involved in the energy policy process to represent its customers, communities and shareholders.

“We enable the safe delivery of increasingly clean energy solutions at reliable, affordable prices, and we support officials who support policies that are an effective voice in making important political 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 not always in the best interests of our company and our stakeholders. It’s important to remember that some people insist on this. “

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 hear our voices on issues that are important to our customers, shareholders, employees and the company,” she said. “PAC strives to understand candidates for public office and to work with them to understand and address solutions to problems 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 work to educate officials about the implications of our business and potential policy choices,” he said.

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

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