Ohio’s Republican-dominated state legislature stood firm against its former Speaker of the House, MP Larry Householder, who was indicted last July along with others for allegedly taking bribes to protect the state’s nuclear power industry. Two of the defendants have already pleaded guilty. The beneficiary of the $ 1 billion government bailout, FirstEnergy
Corp. is reportedly in talks with prosecutors.

Unfortunately for the nuclear industry, this event cannot be viewed in isolation: it will have a wave that will undoubtedly shake an industry that is constantly trying to regain its balance. Once the case is fully exposed, the aftermath could be far worse than any previous incident – a reference to Three Mile Island and the San Onofre Nuclear Station in Southern California which were more public relations flaws than public safety threats.

“FirstEnergy too admits paying $ 250,000 to Generation Now in March 2017“When the alleged plan began, he says Institute for Energy and Politics. Overall, the utility company admits to paying $ 56.6 million.Longstreth and Generation now were both indicted with Householder last year and have since pleaded guilty to participating in an extortionate conspiracy.

Prosecutors claim that “Company A” is at the heart of the matter – a company everyone knows: FirstEnergy. It is now said to have taken funds from its regulated transmission and distribution units in several states and given them to this seedy group called Generation Now. The Institute for Energy and Politics has confirmation from FirstEnergy that the money comes from customers of the distribution and transmission companies.

The former speaker householder is said to have received part of this $ 60 million – allegations he vehemently denies. He compares his expulsion with a political exercise and similar to what the former President Donald Trump experienced after his two-time impeachment. But unlike the Republicans in Congress, the Republican-controlled Ohio House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted for the legislature’s exclusion: 75-21, with the minority arguing that if the man is convicted, he should be expelled.

It’s about an Ohio bill calling for a $ 1.3 billion bailout – a measure that essentially taxes anyone who uses electricity and then uses that money to bail out FirstEnergy’s nuclear operation. The alleged $ 60 million bribes also helped repel a voter initiative that would have overturned this law.

The damage done

FirstEnergy realized that this event had tarnished its reputation and fired several key executives – from the Ethics Officer to Chief Executive Officer Charles Jones. Prosecutors alleged that Jones and Householder had 84 phone contacts between 2017 and 2019. While both men deny wrongdoing, FirstEnergy is annual financial reports said it was a “deferred prosecution” – an arrangement in which prosecutors grant amnesty if the defendant meets certain requirements. First of all, it would have to repay customers for the funds it took from them and then embezzled.

“This is probably the largest bribery and money laundering program ever carried out against the people of the state of Ohio,” said then-US attorney David DeVillers at the time of the indictment. “That was plain and simple bribery. This was something in return. That was paid to play. ”Prosecutors claim the payments are synonymous with “Wallet” that went unregulated and not reported.

Ohio lawmakers, like those of Connecticut, Illinois, New York and New Jersey, have voted to save their nuclear power plants, not only because they are reliable and clean, but also because they employ thousands of people. In Ohio, the $ 1.3 billion rescue package from nuclear subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions, now Energy Harbor, was supposed to help.

But there was no way Ohio residents could have known that the legislation was scandalous – an act of alleged public corruption that could cripple an already ailing nuclear industry. According to the Institute for Nuclear Energy, there are 96 nuclear reactors in 29 states. Together they provide around 20% of the country’s electricity and around 55% of its carbon-free electricity.

But these nuclear reactors struggle to compete with plants that run on shale gas, which is much cheaper. This fact, together with the high capital costs required to build these facilities, has severely constrained nuclear development in this country.

As a result, have several nuclear power plants closed down since 2013 and others are on the chopping block. The practical impact of moving away from nuclear energy and towards natural gas has been higher CO2 emissions. When Southern California’s Edison closed its San Onofre nuclear facility in 2013, CO2 emissions rose 35% – the main reason it kept its nuclear power plants operational.

“No matter how good this policy is … the process forever tainted the bill and now the law itself,” said Ohio Governor Mike Dewine.

The American nuclear sector never learned the most basic lesson from Three Mile Island, which suffered a partial meltdown in 1979: publish accurate information and do so as soon as the facts are known. Secrecy doesn’t work. That was what destroyed the San Onofre Generating Station, which masked a small radiation leak. It then lost all credibility with regulators and the public. FirstEnergy could suffer similar consequences, none of which is good for the already ailing nuclear power sector.