A judge says Ohio’s attorney general can’t block the state’s nuclear plants from collecting fees on electricity bills even though the law that authorized the bailout money is at the center of a $60 million federal bribery probe
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s attorney general can’t block the state’s nuclear plants from collecting fees on electricity bills even though the law that authorized the bailout money is at the center of a $60 million federal bribery probe, a judge ruled Friday.
A Franklin County judge denied Attorney General Dave Yost’s attempt to stop Energy Harbor from receiving payments to the company’s two nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo that were bailed out through the now-tainted legislation.
The bailout is funded by a fee that will be added to every electricity bill in the state starting Jan. 1 — directing over $150 million a year, through 2026, to the two nuclear plants.
Energy Harbor is the former FirstEnergy Solutions, a onetime subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. The company said in a statement last week that the state’s lawsuit “unjustly targets the company for lawfully participating in the political process and advocating for policy that is consistent with our interests.”
The lawsuit also sought to freeze the assets of former House Speaker Larry Householder’s $1 million campaign fund and dissolve the dark money groups involved in the bribery scheme.
But Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Chris Brown noted in his ruling that blocking donations and other speech would be an infringement of the companies’ and individuals’ First Amendment rights.
“I don’t know that there’s any way, absent a judicial determination of criminal conduct, that I can prohibit future speech,” Brown wrote.
Yost said while he was disappointed