CLEVELAND — Television and radio ads airing across Ohio claim that the Chinese government is on the verge of controlling the state’s power supply.

The ads urge Ohioans to resist efforts underway to repeal the state’s new energy law, which adds a fee to their monthly electric bill. Most of the extra money goes to Ohio’s two nuclear power plants, which have struggled to compete with more efficient plants that use natural gas.

Critics of the law, which include supporters of alternative energy and natural gas power producers, claim the new law is a bailout for FirstEnergy Solutions, which owns the nuclear plants.

Ohioans for Energy Security, the special interest group that made the commercial and backs the new law, said repealing the law will give the Communist regime a foothold into Ohio’s power grid.

Its ads reads in part: The Chinese government is quietly invading our American electric grid. Intertwining themselves financially in our energy infrastructure. Now, a special interest group boosting Chinese financial interests is targeting Ohio’s energy. Taking Ohio money. Exporting Ohio jobs. Even risking our national security. They’re meddling in our elections. In the coming weeks, you may be approached on the street or at your door to sign a petition to defund U.S. jobs and energy. They will ask for your name, your address, your signature. Tell them no.

You can watch the full ad below:

So what evidence is there that China could get control of our household power supply if voters repeal the law?

Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Ohioans for Energy Security, points to William Siderewicz. He’s the businessman who runs a natural-gas power plant in Lucas County and is developing other plants in the state. LoParo said Siderewicz has received “significant financing from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, a Chinese government-owned bank.”

This, LoParo asserts, gives the Chinese government an entry point to the power grid

Aaron Klein of the Brookings Institution, a policy think tank in Washington, D.C., said China poses a threat to U.S. security but not in this case. 

"If people wanted to disrupt American electricity, they would probably do it by hacking our energy grid, not by making a 30-year passive loan to an energy project," he said.
           
Klein, who is a fellow in economic studies and serves as policy director of the Brookings’ Center on Regulation and Markets, said people who support repealing Ohio's new energy law are not contributing to a Chinese plot.

"It would be like saying that … the bank that lent you money for your car controls where you drive,” he said. “It's just not true."

Klein said the threats the Chinese government pose include cybercrimes and hacking.

“There are a lot of legitimate questions about 5G and future phone technology,” he said.

Since the ads started airing, the Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts – the special interest group behind the effort to repeal the new energy law -- has won approval of the summary language on the petitions that voters will be asked to sign. The group needs to collect signatures from 265,774 registered voters to put the issue before voters in November 2020. 

This means voters are likely to see and hear more commercials about China’s meddling.