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FirstEnergy Says Attorney General's Nuclear Bailout Lawsuit Does Not Have 'Legal Merit'

The Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station on Lake Erie.
Ron Schwane
Associated Press

FirstEnergy is responding to a civil case filed over Ohio's nuclear bailout by Attorney General Dave Yost, saying the utility company plans to "vigorously" defend itself.

FirstEnergy spokesperson Jennifer Young says the company has followed the law when it comes to making political contributions.

"The attorney general's lawsuit unjustly targets the FirstEnergy for lawfully participating in the political process and advocating for policy that's consistent with our interests," Young says. "Many public companies, we support policy initiatives that matter to our customers, employees, communities and shareholders. We believe the attorney general’s complaint is without legal merit, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves."

Yost’s civil suit seeks to stop any defendants in his filing from collecting any revenue created through HB6, the nuclear bailout and energy law passed last year. The law allows for monthly charges starting in January on all electric ratepayers bills to send money to nuclear, coal and solar plants. HB6 also allows for "decoupling," which guarantees FirstEnergy a certain amount of profits.

Yost says he’s basing his civil case on a federal racketeering investigation, which accuses a utility widely believed to be FirstEnergy of playing a role in a bribery scehem.

FirstEnergy, which is not currently facing charges, has denied wrongdoing in that federal investigation.

"Our CEO Chuck Jones said during an earnings call that we conducted in late July that he believes FirstEnergy acted properly in this matter and we intend to ensure our company and our role in HB6 is understood as accurately as possible and we will cooperate with the DOJ investigator as part of that process in demonstrating our role," Young says.

The civil case is also filed against former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, Matt Borges, Neil Clark, Juan Cespedes, and Jeff Longstreth. All five people are indicted on racketeering charges, accused of playing a role in a bribery scheme that helped HB6 become law using $61 million from a 501(c)(4) dark money group.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.