Federal Investigations in Ohio, Illinois Bribery Schemes Shine Light on Utilities’ Desperate Measures

Statement by Jeff Deyette, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Sep 11, 2020

WASHINGTON—Multiple investigations have been launched by the Justice Department into years-long multimillion-dollar bribery and conspiracy schemes related to energy legislation passed by state legislators, funded by ComEd in Illinois and allegedly by FirstEnergy in Ohio, that would provide billions of dollars of ratepayer money to these large corporations.

Several lawmakers and utility officials have been subpoenaed or charged with conspiring to influence legislation in order to garner undue profits from ratepayers. These actions that are deeply troubling and inappropriate, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Jeff Deyette, director of state policy and analysis for the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.

“These actions are shameful. These are desperate measures by powerful multibillion-dollar corporations to line their pockets at the expense of consumers and shield themselves from other competitors in the market.

“The federal investigations highlight an alarming trend that is becoming clear: FirstEnergy and ComEd, a subsidiary of Exelon, have corrupted democratic processes through schemes to boost their profits and steal billions of ratepayer dollars. What’s more, FirstEnergy’s actions didn’t just harm consumers, they also stalled a clean energy transition in a state that is heavily dependent on polluting fossil-fuels.

“This attack on good governance has broken the public’s trust. To restore confidence, transparency and ethics laws must be strengthened, and the utilities must be held accountable. Energy legislation and the regulations that implement it should be developed in an open and transparent process where all stakeholders have an opportunity to participate and undue utility influence is held in check. It is in those conditions where the best solutions for protecting ratepayers and the environment come to light.”

Additional Resources: