Today, environmental groups are appealing the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s (PUCO) approval of a financial bailout for FirstEnergy Corp. and its shareholders to the Ohio Supreme Court. Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, vowed to appeal the Commission’s August decision granting $204 million annual payments from FirstEnergy customers over the next three to five years as both contrary to Ohio law and not in the best interest of FirstEnergy’s customers.
FirstEnergy initially proposed the bailout in 2014 to ensure the profitability of the financially challenged W.H. Sammis coal plant and Davis Besse nuclear plant, both owned by an affiliate of FirstEnergy Corp. After the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission raised serious questions about that bailout, FirstEnergy submitted a new proposal to force captive customers to prop up the credit rating of FirstEnergy’s corporate parent. On August 16 of this year, PUCO affirmed its approval of a modified version of that proposal over the objections of a wide array of consumer, industrial, and environmental groups.
“Forcing Ohio utility customers to finance FirstEnergy’s corporate slush fund simply has no basis in Ohio law,” said Shannon Fisk, Managing Attorney at Earthjustice. “The PUCO did not fulfill its duty to protect customers from FirstEnergy’s unending requests for bailouts; therefore, we will take our argument to the Ohio Supreme Court.”
“Ohio is supposed to have a competitive energy market that keeps costs low for customers. The FirstEnergy bailout will take money out of the pockets of hard-working Ohioans to support uncompetitive coal and nuclear plants,” said Jen Miller, executive director of the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter. “We will keep fighting to the state’s highest court on behalf of public health and affordable renewable energy.”