John Kasich just appointed another Republican to the five-member Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), even though state law requires no more than three members of the commission can belong to same political party. In his quest to control the commission and crush Ohio’s renewable energy standards, Kasich has shown just how easy it is to circumvent this law and use the PUCO to promote his highly-partisan agenda. State Rep. David Leland of Columbus has proposed new legislation that could help fix the problem.
Besides appointing Republican climate change deniers like Todd Snitchler to the PUCO, Kasich has also appointed Republicans posing as Independents. In 2012, Beth Trombold applied for a PUCO spot as a Republican and was passed over. A year later she applied again, this time as an Independent, and was appointed to the post by Kasich. All of Kasich’s appointees have focused on implementing his partisan agenda.
Kasich’s Republican appointees to the PUCO voted to block the “Turning Point” solar project, which would have been the largest solar array installation east of the Mississippi, after hearing complaints from FirstEnergy. FirstEnergy and it’s employees have donated more than $100,000 to Kasich and Republicans over the past four years.
Kasich’s Republican appointees also failed to work with Ormet on a temporary rate adjustment that could have saved over 1,000 jobs. At the same time they allowed companies like AEP and Duke Energy to increase rates on residential consumers and small business owners.
State Rep. David Leland is planning to change state law to require at least one member of the five-person Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) be a Democrat or Republican.
“Bipartisan government is the best kind of government,” said Rep. Leland. “The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is one of the state’s most important agencies, affecting the lives and pocketbooks of millions of Ohioans. We need to make sure that it has the checks and balances that only bipartisanship can provide.”
According to a release from Rep. Leland’s office, his legislation “comes in response to Gov. Kasich’s recent appointment of Republican Andre Porter, which eliminates the bipartisan make-up of the Commission. This Commission will be the first in modern history not to have both Democratic and Republican members.”