COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s utility regulators should not have approved an Akron-based FirstEnergy affiliate to help consumers shop for electricity.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the high court’s decision Thursday means the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s approval of FirstEnergy Advisors’ application will return to the commission to be reheard.
In April 2020, when Sam Randazzo was chair, the commission okayed FirstEnergy Advisors as a “competitive retail electric service provider.” Such brokers provide an alternative, often cheaper option to purchasing energy directly from a distribution company, like FirstEnergy’s Ohio Edison.
The PUCO is charged with ensuring that all such brokers are separate from distribution companies and meet other requirements like “managerial, financial and technical fitness.”
The high court’s decision followed opposition to the FirstEnergy Advisors application by the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council at the commission level, on grounds it shared a parent company with FirstEnergy and several executives with the distribution companies.
Commission staff disagreed and the commission rejected the consumers groups’ arguments in June 2020. They sued two months later.
Federal court records have shown that Randazzo played an outsized role in a $60 million bribery scheme involving tainted energy legislation in which FirstEnergy admitted in July to using dark money groups and agreed to pay $230 million and other conditions.