Lordstown Energy Developer Demands Repeal of Nuclear Bailout

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – The developer who helped spearhead opposition to a billion-dollar bailout of the state’s nuclear power industry is demanding that the measure be repealed in the wake of what officials say is Ohio’s largest corruption scandal.

“The governor and the legislature need to immediately repeal and nullify H.B. 6,” said Bill Siderewicz, CEO of Boston-based Clean Energy Future, in a statement Tuesday. “It was fraudulently passed.”

House Bill 6, signed into law a year ago, allowed about $1 billion in ratepayer subsidies to support two struggling nuclear power plants then owned by FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. – now named Energy Harbor.

Clean Energy Future developed the Lordstown Energy Center and is in the early stages of developing second plant at the site, Trumbull Energy Center.

On Tuesday, federal authorities arrested Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, R-72 Glenford, and four others in connection with an alleged $60 million bribery scheme related to the passage of H.B. 6. Authorities say that Householder, his longtime advisor Jeffery Longstreth, former Ohio GOP chairman Matthew Borges, and lobbyists Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes, accepted money from “Company A” through a nonprofit organization, Generation Now, in exchange for supporting a bailout bill worth more than $ 1 billion.

Company A is widely believed to be FirstEnergy Corp.

The bribe money was “used to line the pockets of the defendants,” U.S. Attorney David DeVillers said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Some of the money was also used to establish a power base for Householder in the legislature, which helped him secure his bid for speaker, as well as support for H.B. 6, he added. Householder was elected speaker in 2019.

Siderewicz helped form a referendum committee shortly after the bill was signed in an effort to overturn the law through a statewide ballot. The measure failed to get enough support to be placed before voters.

Authorities charge that some of the money – “tens of millions of dollars” – was used to bribe those involved in the ballot campaign to ensure the repeal effort failed.

“They were successful,” DeVillers said.

The investigation is ongoing, DeVillers said during his press briefing.

“We fought H.B. 6 because it had no clean energy value at all,” Siderewicz said. “Instead, it forces ratepayers to unfairly bailout two uneconomical nuclear plants to the tune of $300 million a year.”

Siderewicz helped develop the Lordstown Energy Center, a nearly $1 billion non-utility power plant in the village. A second plant, Trumbull Energy Center, is in its early stages of development. Construction on the second plant should begin in December, he noted.

These plants are smaller and are able to manufacture electric power much more efficiently, Siderewicz said. He has said in the past that H.B. 6 provides an unfair advantage to the nuclear power industry and made smaller projects such as his more difficult to develop.

Last year, Clean Energy scrapped plans to build a third plant in the Mahoning Valley after H.B. 6 was signed.

“The FBI should provide the maximum penalty to these individuals and companies involved,” Siderewicz said.

Pictured: Bill Siderewicz, CEO of Clean Energy Future.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.