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Audit Finds FirstEnergy Made Payments To Generation Now, Randazzo Groups

The FirstEnergy headquarters in Akron.
Tim Ruddell
The FirstEnergy headquarters in Akron.

The audit of FirstEnergy ordered by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has found millions of dollars in payments ​the utility made to groups including those connected to the nuclear bailout bribery case involving former House Speaker Larry Householder.

The third-party audit for the PUCO looked into 17 payments that were flagged by FirstEnergy in a February SEC filing as "being improperly classified, misallocated, or lacked documentation."

​The payments ​included $6.6 million collected through ratepayers (Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, Ohio Edison, and Toledo Edison) and used to pay entities with connections to Tony George, a prominent Cleveland businessman. It has not been specified why these payments have been deemed improper.

The audit says the $6.6 million should be refunded back to ratepayers along with another $82,000 it discovered that should be credited through future discounts in rates.

Some of the flagged money went to Generation Now, the 501(c)4 that pled guilty to funneling money from FirstEnergy to Householder.

Householder is accused of taking the money for personal and political gain and in return passing a billion dollar nuclear bailout, HB6. Householder has pleaded not guilty.

Other FirstEnergy payments went to companies tied to former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chair Sam Randazzo. FirstEnergy said it paid Randazzo a bribe of $4.3 million to help get its nuclear bailout. Randazzo has not been charged with a crime.

"FirstEnergy is committed to working with the PUCO to address the vendor transactions through customer refunds," said Jennifer Young, FirstEnergy spokesperson in a statement.

The PUCO said an administrative law judge will establish a procedural schedule in this case to determine the next step, which can include establishing the process for refunding that money to ratepayers.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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.