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Electric and gas utilities have used money collected from customers to lobby lawmakers, butter up regulators, and slow the shift to clean energy. Beyond being occasionally illegal, the practice has stuck consumers with higher bills and led to higher carbon dioxide emissions, industry watchdogs say.

In one particularly egregious example, the FBI arrested Larry Householder, who was the Republican leader of the Ohio House of Representatives in 2020 at the time of his arrest. It alleged that the Ohio utility FirstEnergy had given the lawmaker $60 million in exchange for passing legislation bailing out its coal and nuclear power plants. His corruption trial began this week in Cincinnati.

It’s one of a handful of utility scandals over the last decade that advocates for reform say have resulted in higher energy bills and more carbon emissions. But there are simple steps lawmakers could take to avoid these problems, according to a report the nonprofit utility watchdog Energy and Policy Institute published Thursday.

The analysis, a... Read more

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