https://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-utilities-nuclear-breakdown-000000663.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS91cmw_c2E9dCZyY3Q9aiZxPSZlc3JjPXMmc291cmNlPXdlYiZjZD0mdmVkPTJhaFVLRXdqMXFwNmxtZkxxQWhVMHQzRUtIU3ZqQTZZUUZqQUJlZ1FJQVJBQiZ1cmw9aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZmaW5hbmNlLnlhaG9vLmNvbSUyRm5ld3MlMkZ1cy11dGlsaXRpZXMtbnVjbGVhci1icmVha2Rvd24tMDAwMDAwNjYzLmh0bWwmdXNnPUFPdlZhdzNwck0wUFI0UVFQRENSeUkxZm44Qlk&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAE2IpAZSU7jLUxhof3eC02eFNjhUmgTvtNpP7QoJQt1h70mG3s9acSxMTIR7RXtsqZE3YS3GWwmYWFyVysuPBL6VssBVUdq6XG_7P17J-ch608krD-HSHYhN8LNA8B4ke3RExWKQpt8IUEAwIGzC7LUQPeHEXP6A3oOvBn4SuOsoS U.S .utilities: nuclear breakdown
Companies like free markets. Until the moment they do not. In an extraordinary criminal complaint last week, a top Ohio legislator and four others were arrested by federal authorities and accused of illegally collecting $60m in political contributions. The purpose of the money: helping to bail out the nuclear power industry.
Ohio was one of several states that deregulated power generation, allowing companies to sell electricity based on market prices. Nuclear power plants cost billions of dollars and require years to build. In the past decade, wholesale power prices have fallen sharply and unexpectedly because of plentiful production from inexpensive natural gas and increasing contributions from renewable sources such as solar and wind.
FirstEnergy is the entity which has been connected to the $60m that allegedly flowed to an Ohio politician and his political machinery. The Midwest state enacted a billion-dollar bailout that saved two nuclear plants once affiliated with First Energy in 2019. The plants have subsequently been spun off into a new company.
The chief executive of First Energy said last week that while the company had supported the bailout legislation it had “acted properly in this matter”. Still worries about potential liability sent the company’s shares down more than one-quarter, losing nearly $6bn of equity value.
According to the US Department of Energy, wind power became the third-largest source of US generating capacity in 2019. And by 2050, nuclear power will provide just above a tenth of US electricity generation, down from a fifth today.
Big utilities are politically powerful in the US — not just because of the thousands of jobs they provide, but because they also contribute heavily to political parties and causes. Incumbent nuclear players have lobbied extensively to get multiple states to prop them up even while their economics continue to deteriorate. The Ohio case, if proven, shows just how toxic this can be.
Huge criminal racketeering conspiracy orchestrated reactor bailouts
By Linda Pentz Gunter
It’s been a bit of a Watergate week for nuclear power, with individuals in two states arrested for criminally defrauding the public to keep nuclear power alive. In Ohio, it was public officials, believed to be backed by nuclear company money, who illegally orchestrated a massive subsidy. In South Carolina, it was the arrest of an energy company official who has pled guilty to a $9 billion nuclear fraud. This week, we feature the Ohio story. Next week, it will be South Carolina’s turn.
If you were going to pull someone out of central casting to play a thuggish villain, you would choose Larry Householder. But he wouldn’t need any acting skills.
On July 21, Householder, along with four others, was arrested for his alleged involvement in what amounts to the biggest criminal racketeering conspiracy in Ohio history. Somehow it’s not a surprise that it revolved around pots of money to keep two aging and unaffordable nuclear power plants open
While Householder may physically embody everyone’s idea of a gangster, it’s not his official profession. He is — and presumably that will soon be a “was” — the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives.
The scheme is laid bare in an 81-page criminal complaint. It was busted open by a year-long, detailed and covert investigation by the US Attorney’s office and the FBI, and involves the flow of $61 million of dark money directed toward activities that would ensure the passage of legislation in Ohio guaranteeing the bailout of the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear reactors to the tune of $1.5 billion. The subsidy is being funded via a surcharge on electricity customers.
The bill, known as HB6, also slashed mandates for wind and solar energy and eliminated energy efficiency requirements. It was, as David Roberts described it on Vox just after the bill passed in July 2019, “the worst piece of legislation in the 21st century” and “the most counterproductive and corrupt piece of state energy legislation I can recall in all my time covering this stuff.”
FirstEnergy Solutions, the then owner of the plants, had threatened their closure if the subsidy was not forthcoming..
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