Ohio’s share will help residents pay utility bills

COLUMBUS – FirstEnergy has agreed to pay $230 million to resolve federal charges in connection with allegedly bribing Ohio officials in a $1 billion ratepayer-funded bailout of two nuclear plants.

FirstEnergy was charged last week with conspiring to commit honest services wire fraud.  The utility company signed a deferred prosecution agreement that could be dismissed in three years if FirstEnergy abides by agreed-upon improvement in its compliance and ethics efforts and continues to cooperate with federal authorities.

Half of the $230 million penalty will go to the federal government and the other to the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP) program, managed by the Ohio Development Services Agency.  PIPP helps Ohioans pay their utility bills.

Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy (OPAE) will continue to monitor these settlement dollars as the process moves forward.

The agreement comes a year after federal prosecutors announced its investigation into a $60 million bribery scheme that pour tens of millions of dollars into dark money groups to pass the nuclear bailout bill and support an effort to halt its repeal.

Authorities arrested then Speaker Larry Householder, who has pleaded not guilty, and four others in the scheme.

Householder is accused of helping orchestrate the plan and accepting money for personal and political use in exchange for passing the bill and shutting down repeal efforts.

The settlement agreement, outlined in Thursday’s court filings, detailed how FirstEnergy tried to further its interests through a $4.3 million payment to the consulting company of an individual who later became Ohio’s top utility regulator.  That individual is known to be Sam Randazzo, former chair of Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Randazzo has not been charged.

OPAE will continue to follow this case closely.