Updated on June 12, 2019, with a copy of one of Generation Now, Inc.’s Facebook ads supporting HB 6, the bill that would bail out FirstEnergy Solutions’ nuclear power plants in Ohio.
Employees of FirstEnergy Solutions are featured in a new round of Facebook ads by the dark money group “Generation Now, Inc.” that back a bill to bail out the bankrupt utility’s nuclear power plants.
The question of who is behind Generation Now, Inc.’s secretive multi-million dollar ad campaign in support of the bill, HB 6, has largely been a mystery.
Reporters at the Dayton Daily News and Daily Beast previously revealed the involvement of Republican political operatives with close ties to Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, a chief proponent of the bailout bill that would also roll back Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, and extend costly subsidies for two struggling coal-fired power plants.
Householder was asked about Generation Now, Inc.’s ad campaign during an interview that aired late last month on The Ohio Channel.
“I’ll tell you who is paying for these ads,” Householder said. “It’s working men and women from Ohio who want to save their jobs and it’s Ohio corporations, headquartered in Ohio, that want to stay here. That’s who’s paying for them.”
FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) is headquartered in Akron, Ohio.
Generation Now, Inc.’s latest round of Facebook ads, which individually targeted at least 20 members of the Ohio Senate who could soon vote on HB 7, do not mention FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) or nuclear power.
Instead, the ads launched on June 6 feature individuals who refer vaguely to saving jobs at “plants” without disclosing that most of those same individuals work for FES at its two nuclear plants in Ohio.
“If our plant closes down, it’ll close down an entire community,” says one individual featured in the ads.
The ads identify that individual as Matt Messenger of Madison, Ohio, but do not mention that Messenger works as a project manager at FES’s Perry nuclear power plant, as stated on his Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.
“Plants provide thousands of jobs for families,” Brian Walleman of Oak Harbor says in the ads.
Walleman works at FES’s Davis-Besse nuclear plant.
“Thousands will lose their jobs,” says Lindsay Humble, also of Madison.
Humble, who also testified before an Ohio House committee last month in support of HB 6, works at the Perry nuclear plant.
The Energy and Policy Institute asked FES to comment on why its employees are appearing in Generation Now, Inc.’s ads, but FES had not responded with a statement by the time this blog post was published.
Some of the FES employees featured in Generation Now, Inc.’s Facebook ads also appeared in earlier videos produced by the FES-backed Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance (OCEJA), which is also supporting HB 6. The OJECA videos are more transparent about the employees’ links to FES.
Humble appeared in one OCEJA video, according to a January post on a FirstEnergy Corp. website that provides updates to the company’s retirees.
“The Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance (OCEJA) held an employee contest at Davis-Besse and Perry during the holidays to get friends and family members to sign up to join OCEJA and demonstrate their support for the nuclear plants,” according to the same post on FEretiries.com.
“A total of 101 employees at the two plants participated in OCEJA’s Employee Ambassador Program to help ensure the nuclear plants continue to operate well into the future,” it said.
A fourth person, Sheila Pate, is also featured in the Generation Now, Inc.’s latest Facebook ads. Pate lists her employer as FirstEnergy Corp. on LinkedIn. She is also a board member of the Davis-Besse Employee Association.
Generation Now, Inc. has spent a total of $94,760 on Facebook ads, including $9,993 between June 2 and 8th.
OCEJA has spent a $251,927 on Facebook ads, with $9,989 of that spending occurring between June 2 and 8.
If the bill backed by FES, Generation Now, Inc., and OCEJA is signed into law as currently written, Ohio consumers will pay at least $170 million to bail out the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants. Consumers will also miss out on the savings generated by Ohio’s energy efficiency standards, and face paying nearly $368 million more in subsidies to coal plants.
Jobs in Ohio’s renewable energy industry will also be lost if the bill passes.
In other states, lawmakers have provided support to save struggling nuclear power plants from retirement while also boosting support for renewable energy and energy efficiency.