ONN is reporting that utility companies are donating tons of cash to Ohio’s GOP lawmakers who are responsible for shaping the state’s new energy policy.

Investor-owned utilities most affected by changes coming in Ohio’s $14 billion electric power industry have lavished thousands of dollars on the political campaigns of Republicans who will steer those changes.

Campaign finance records show that the political action committees of FirstEnergy Corp., American Electric Power Co. and Duke Energy have given at least $80,250 to the campaigns of House and Senate leaders and their caucus campaign funds so far this year.

The Senate version of the bill received a nod from Governor Strickland and should soon go to the house.

But House Speaker Jon Husted appears to be in no hurry to get the bill passed. On Monday he “announced a schedule for hearings on the energy bill beginning next week and into January.”

It looks like he’s going to delay as long as possible hoping the utility companies keep on making contributions.

  • Johnny Springfield

    So what’s new? Husted, parlaying his status as speaker and the control he and his minions can exercise over legislation, is running the same power play he’s run for years: Drag out important legislation to give special interest groups — in this case utilities and their hired guns — enough time to write checks that will likely produce the kind of results they are paying for.

    If Husted had a robust track record of going to bat for consumers over the selfish interests of big business and their shareholders — remember, he made his bones at the Dayton Chamber of Commerce — he might be given a modicum of pause. But his record in this regard is so flimsy as to be invisible.

    In regards to Ohio’s juggernaut energy bill, FirstEnergy has already gamed the system by removing its coal-fired power plants from the grasp of Ohio officials. And let’s not think the Public Utilities Commission has the stones to hold them to account, otherwise they’d have done so by now.

    For a company like FirstEnergy that made more money in the first nine months of this year than all of last year — a cool $1 billion — the tens of thousands of dollars they’ve already put in the lobbying pot is nothing but chump change.

    When the Ohio Consumer’s Counsel, the utility-funded law firm that represents Ohio’s 4.5 million residential users, declares the bill up to their standards, Ohioans can feel satisfied that their interests — not the narrow needs of big energy users or profiteering utility company shareholders — have been met.

    And if Gov. Strickland and his energy team don’t step up to the plate and fight for what he said in his energy speech was important to families — empowering them to assure the rate-setting process is fair and transparent — he will give Ohioans reason to believe that the $25,000 big utilities companies gave him for his inaugural festivities bought more than a good time for him and his supporters.

    Ohioans should expect Husted to do what he’s doing. They expect more from their new governor.

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