Energy Harbor Could Still Face Charges In Householder Nuclear Bailout Scheme

The FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear power plant in Perry, Ohio.
FirstEnergy Solutions planned to close two Ohio nuclear power plants, including Perry, if HB6 did not become law. [Nick Castele / ideastream]

Federal authorities allege Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder ran a massive scheme to pass an energy bill that bailed out two nuclear plants run by Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions, now known as Energy Harbor.

While no charges have been brought against the company yet, the U.S. attorney says the investigation is continuing.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, David DeVillers, said the $61 million racketeering enterprise dates back to March 2017. According to DeVillers, Householder created a 501(c)(4) group called Generation Now to launder money contributed by an entity identified in the federal investigation documents as Company A, but widely known to be FirstEnergy Solutions.

"It was imperative to hide that," DeVillers says. "And that's what that conspiracy did."

A 501(c)(4) is an IRS-designated organization meant to support social programs, which DeVillers said was a cover for the operation, because it was not required to disclose its donors.

Much of the money filtered from FirstEnergy Solutions paid for ads to help the election of Republican candidates recruited by Householder, who then supported his bid to be Speaker and later secured passage of HB6, the $1 billion nuclear bailout bill.

The enterprise also engaged in tactics to ensure petition drives aimed at overturning the energy measure were defeated.

DeVillers also said Householder took some half a million dollars for his own personal benefit, using $300,000 to pay off a lawsuit and $100,000 for a home in Florida.

So far, Householder and four others have been arrested in the scheme, including former Republican Party chairman Matt Borges. Generation Now also faces federal charges.

When asked whether anyone from FirstEnergy might be charged, DeVillers said the investigation is not over.

“Individuals that work for Company A, and Company A in and of itself, we’re going to continue to investigate this, and we’re going to investigate it wherever it leads, whoever it is and whoever they work for," DeVillers said.

Jason Copsey, senior account executive for Energy Harbor, says they are reviewing the complaint and will cooperate with the government’s investigation.

Ohio Democrats and environmental groups have called for the repeal of the energy bill.

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