Last updated on October 3 with some additional information about Protect Ohio Clean Energy Jobs, a new political action committee that recently designated a lobbyist for FirstEnergy Solutions as its treasurer.
Facebook ad data links lobbyists for FirstEnergy Solutions to a new group that’s instructing Ohio voters to remove their names from the petition for a referendum to undo House Bill 6, the new Ohio law that bails out the bankrupt utility at consumers’ expense.
The new group called “Protect Ohio Clean Energy Jobs” has so far paid over $5,500 for Facebook ads that first went live on September 26-27. The ads are routed through a Facebook page called Save Ohio Clean Energy Jobs, which was created on September 18.
“Information about the advertiser” provided by Facebook lists the address for Protect Ohio Clean Energy Jobs as “41 S. High St. Floor 21, Columbus, Ohio 43215, US.”
Protect Ohio Clean Energy Jobs is a Ballot Issue PAC located at the same address, according to a Designation of Treasurer form filed with the Ohio Secretary of State on September 10. Alex Thomas of Roetzel Consulting Solutions is listed on the form as the PAC’s treasurer. Thomas is also a lobbyist for FirstEnergy Solutions.
The new Facebook ads link to a website, www.saveohiocleanenergyjobs.com, which offers to help voters remove their names from the petition. A related form found online can be filled out by voters and sent to Protect Ohio Clean Energy Jobs at the same 41 S. High St. address.
The Ohio Lobbying Activist Center lists the same address for Matthew Borges and Alexander Thomas, two Roetzel Consulting Solutions lobbyists employed by FirstEnergy Solutions to lobby on behalf of House Bill 6. Borges is the former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, and Thomas previously worked as a special assistant for legislative affairs under former Governor John Kasich.
Thomas told Andy Chow of the Statehouse News that he is the treasurer for Protect Ohio Clean Energy Jobs.
Facebook’s ad info also lists “15136688221” as the phone number for Protect Ohio Clean Energy Jobs.
Emails from Thomas obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute show he listed the same number for his cell phone in messages sent to members of the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance, a pro-HB 6 coalition that’s “powered by FirstEnergy Solutions.”
“We were part of the broad coalition that fought to save clean energy jobs in Ohio,” Thomas said in a statement the Statehouse News.
In one email from June, Thomas asked for signatures on a letter supporting HB 6. The signed letter was later submitted to the Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee by the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance.
The website for the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance is ProtectOhioCleanEnergyJobs.org.
Carlo LoParo, the spokesperson for the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance, is also involved in Ohioans for Energy Security, the murky group behind misleading ads that claim HB 6 referendum petitioners work for the communist government in China.
The Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance previously ran $291,661 in Facebook ads supporting HB 6, ads that were mostly marked as paid for by FirstEnergy Solutions.
Save Ohio Clean Energy Jobs’ ads are misleading
“House Bill 6 increases clean energy investment and saves jobs, but out of state energy companies want it gone,” claims one of Save Ohio Clean Energy Jobs’s new Facebook ads.
“If you signed their misleading petition, click the link to remove your name and support Ohio clean energy jobs,” the ad continues.
The ad features images of solar panels, while shadowy figures representing “out of state energy companies” shake hands in front of a window with smokestacks looming in the background.
Screenshot of a Save Ohio Clean Energy Jobs ad on Facebook
The Facebook ads don’t mention that House Bill 6 forces Ohio consumers to bail out coal and nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions, a bailout that will largely benefit the bankrupt utility’s investors. While HB 6 includes token support for a few utility-scale solar projects, it rolls back Ohio’s life- and money-saving renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.
House Bill 6 also extends consumer bailouts for two-coal fired operated by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, which is owned by AEP, Duke Energy, Dayton Power & Light, and other electric utilities. One of those plants is located in Indiana.
While the new law will temporarily delay the loss of some jobs at those old and uncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants, opponents say it imperils a much larger number of clean energy jobs in Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.
Top photo is a shot of a cooling tower at Davis-Besse nuclear power plant by Gregory Varnum. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.