January 27, 2021
COLUMBUS – Saying the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s limited investigation is not enough to protect Ohioans amid the largest corruption scandal in the state’s history, two environmental groups on Wednesday filed a motion calling for a broader probe into FirstEnergy and former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo.
This move by the Environmental Law & Policy Center and Ohio Environmental Council would expand the PUCO’s existing narrow investigation into allegations FirstEnergy and its affiliates used ratepayer money – disguised as charitable and political donations – to push House Bill 6 through the Legislature.
As new information on the scandal and Randazzo’s ties to Akron-based FirstEnergy continues to come to light, this narrow scope is increasingly insufficient, the groups say.
“The PUCO seems to be waiting for the federal investigation and conducting only a limited investigation of its own. That’s not enough,” said Environmental Law & Policy Center Senior Attorney Rob Kelter. “If we’re going to protect Ohio ratepayers, the PUCO must widen its investigation to find out the exact nature of former Chair Sam Randazzo’s ties to FirstEnergy and its affiliates, how those companies guided House Bill 6 through the Legislature, and how state officials let a utility set public policy.”
Wednesday’s filing before the PUCO calls for the investigation to include: the FirstEnergy utilities’ corporate separation policies and practices throughout the House Bill 6 debate to the present day; whether and why FirstEnergy put its own interests above their customers’ best interest; and whether the FirstEnergy utilities or their parent company improperly attempted to influence Randazzo.
“The PUCO has a statutory duty to provide a robust investigation into the FirstEnergy Utilities’ involvement in the passage of House Bill 6. Furthermore, an open, transparent, and thorough investigation into the actions taken by FirstEnergy is critical to restore public confidence in utility oversight,” said Ohio Environmental Council Vice President of Energy Policy Miranda Leppla. “It was important to amend our motion to expand the investigation to include additional new facts about improper actions taken by FirstEnergy, so that the PUCO determines the full scope of this investigation based upon all of the currently known utility actions.”