A lobbying firm paid by FirstEnergy Solutions appears to have played a role in writing the testimony given this week by multiple supporters of a bill to bail out the bankrupt utility’s nuclear power plants that’s now before the Ohio House.

The bill in question, HB 6, would ultimately cost Ohioans $300 million annually, $180 million of which would go to FirstEnergy Solutions’ struggling nuclear power plants.

It would also effectively kill Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, and could result in subsidies for coal and natural gas power plants, all under the auspices of a new Clean Air Program.

EPI downloaded digital copies of the written testimony by bill proponents that was posted on the Ohio House website after a committee hearing on Wednesday, and viewed the “Document Properties” for each of the PDF files. The name “Christopher Curry” – was found in the “Author” field of seven of the testimony files.

Curry is a Washington, D.C.-based employee at the Dewey Square Group, a lobbying firm to which FirstEnergy Solutions disclosed making over $800,000 in payments in a bankruptcy case filing last month.

Carlo LoParo, a spokesperson for the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance, provided the following statement to the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) on Thursday, after the hearing on the bill:

As has been reported in the past, the Dewey Square Group works on behalf of FES and the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance to advocate for keeping the state’s nuclear plants open. The Alliance played a key role in mobilizing strong support for House Bill 6 at yesterday’s hearing before the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, including providing a suggested framework and consolidating, converting to PDF’s, and submitting testimony to the committee.

The Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance that LoParo referenced is “powered by FirstEnergy Solutions,” according to the group’s website. Outside lobbying and public relations firms employed by FES helped to launch the Alliance last fall. The group has purchased over $220,000 in Facebook ads since its launch, all paid for by FirstEnergy Solutions.  

Larry Householder, the Republican speaker of the Ohio House who is backing HB 6, denies that the bill is a bailout for FirstEnergy Solution. FirstEnergy’s Political Action Committee and employees contributed nearly $1.2 million during the 2018 election cycle in Ohio, with most of that campaign money going to Republicans, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Curry’s name appeared in the metadata of the written testimony by the following bill proponents who testified at Wednesday’s hearing:

  • Tom Brown, the administrator for Madison Township
  • Beth Hannan, executive director of the Sandusky Economic Development Corporation
  • Scott Miller, a Sandusky County commissioner
  • Andrew Ohrablo, an employee at the Perry nuclear power plant
  • Phil Rudolph, Jr., the vice president of the Rudolph Libbe Group, which has a $435,000+ claim in FirstEnergy Solutions’ bankruptcy case
  • Mark Rantala, the executive director of the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority
  • Bryan Tischer, an employee at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant

Curry also conferred with Sitrick & Company, a Los-Angeles based public relations firm representing FirstEnergy Solutions, about “FES messaging and talking points” in March, according to another bankruptcy case filing.

He worked on the launch of the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance last fall, other documents filed in the FirstEnergy Solutions bankruptcy case reveal.

Curry previously worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016. A petition supporting the inclusion of nuclear power in New York’s clean energy standards that summer lists Curry as the organizer.

Curry has also work with the Dewey Square Group as a lobbyist for Exelon in New York and Pennsylvania, according to FollowtheMoney.org.

Curry is not currently listed as a lobbyist in Ohio.

Top photo is of a cooling tower at FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse nuclear power plant by Joseph Varnum obtained on Wikipedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License 

Posted by Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson is the policy and communications manager for the Energy and Policy Institute. Dave has been working at the nexus of clean energy and public policy since 2008. Prior to joining the Energy and Policy Institute, he was an outreach coordinator for the climate and energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is also an alumnus of the Sierra Club and the Alliance for Climate Protection (now the Climate Reality Project). Dave’s research has helped to spur public scrutiny of political attacks on clean energy and climate science by powerful special interests, such as ExxonMobil and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). His work has been cited by major media outlets, such as CBS News and the Wall Street Journal, and he has served as a speaker on panels at national solar industry conferences. Dave holds a MA in Political Science from the University of New Hampshire, where he also received a BA in Humanities.

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