AKRON, Ohio — Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder is currently the subject of a massive federal bribery investigation. The implications are being felt across the Northeast Ohio energy sector.
The $60 million corruption probe is tied to House Bill 6, which provided financial bailouts for the state's nuclear power plants in Perry and Oak Harbor. Householder was a vocal proponent for the bill's passage, and helped get it through the General Assembly in the face of bipartisan opposition.
Now with the news of suspected foul play, former plant operator FirstEnergy and current operator Energy Harbor saw their stock prices plunge by more than 10% and 20%, respectively, on Tuesday following news of Householder's arrest. Records indicate trading on Energy Harbor stock has paused altogether, with the current price per share down to $28.
FirstEnergy originally operated both plants under its subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions until the latter filed for bankruptcy, putting the future of the Lake and Ottawa County facilities in doubt. Following the passage of HB6, FES emerged from financial hardship and renamed itself Energy Harbor, an independent company separate from FirstEnergy Corp.
FirstEnergy Corp. donated heavily to Householder’s campaigns and his backers in the Ohio House. The utility’s political action committee contributed $25,000 to Householder’s campaign in 2018, according to an analysis by Common Cause Ohio, a government watchdog.
Householder has been arrested along with a former state Republican Party chairman, a former aide, and two lobbyists, according to multiple reports. 3News has reached out to FirstEnergy for comment, while the Energy Harbor website is currently offline.