COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio’s top lawyer asked a court on Thursday to block FirstEnergy Corp. from collecting special fees from customers that were set up under a now-tainted nuclear bailout bill to allow the company to maintain record-high profits even if electricity sales dip.
Republican Attorney General Dave Yost filed his motion in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, where a judge already has blocked fees that House Bill 6 established for bailing out two nuclear power plants operated by a former FirstEnergy subsidiary, Energy Harbor.
The bill is at the center of a $60 million federal bribery probe that alleges then-House Speaker Larry Householder used the money to politically position for and succeed at passing the bailout bill. Householder and four others charged have pleaded not guilty.
Yost said customers also should not have to pay the $102 million that FirstEnergy is set to collect in 2021 through a “perverse for a decoupling” that not only unlinked how much the company makes from how much electricity it sells but guaranteed it maintain the level of profits at record-high 2018 levels.
“First we had to stop the collection of the fee created to line the pockets of Energy Harbor and now we are trying to stop the guaranteed profits for FirstEnergy and inappropriate rate increases to Ohioans,” Yost said in a statement. “It’s time for the court to shut the HB6 piggybank down.”
A message seeking comment was left with FirstEnergy, which has argued the so-called rider that establishes the fees provides stability and certainty, something important to customers and markets.