by J.D. Davidson
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost took another shot at trying to stop new consumer fees from the state’s controversial energy company bailout bill.
Yost recently filed a second lawsuit to block the annual collection of $150 million from additional customer fees from going to Energy Harbor, what he called the successor to FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants.
“The people of Ohio are about to be shaken down for money they should not have to pay based on how HB6 [House Bill 6] was enacted,” Yost said. “There is no process in place to return the money to residents once it leaves their accounts – so why take it?”
In September, Yost filed a civil lawsuit to stop Energy Harbor from receiving funds collected from a utility surcharge included in HB6. Without the most-recent filing, the nuclear generation fees could stop being collected but then held in limbo during litigation, according to Yost.
The lawsuit names two government defendants, which Yost says were not part of the HB 6 corruption scandal. The requests for both preliminary and permanent injunctions against the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority and the state’s treasurer’s office are included because of their administrative roles, Yost said.
“With every passing minute this mess gets worse” Yost said. “We need to stop this process altogether.”
Earlier this month, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio initiated an audit of FirstEnergy’s compliance with corporate separation laws and regulations. Already, the commission is investigating the company’s political and charitable spending in Ohio.
HB6 created a new Ohio Clean Air Program to support nuclear energy plants and some solar power facilities. Electricity consumers fund the program, potentially bringing in up to $85 million in the 2021 fiscal year, with a surcharge that runs through 2027.
It led to the arrest and indictment of Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, R-Glenford, and four others as part of a $60 million “public corruption racketeering conspiracy” to pass the legislation.
Two of the five indicted recently pleaded guilty.
A special House Select Committee held hearings throughout the fall in an attempt to repeal HB6. No action was taken before an Oct. 1 deadline that could have stopped the fees from being collected.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square.