One of the owners of the Ohio Valley Electric Corp. (OVEC), whose coal-fired power plants were bailed out by Ohio’s scandal-plagued HB 6 law, agreed to disclose details in a public audit that the company had previously claimed were trade secrets.

In a series of articles over the last two months, Checks & Balances Project reported that the details Duke Energy OhioDayton Power and Light and Ohio Power claimed were trade secrets were actually information that was publicly available from the federal government and on OVEC’s website.

Ohio Power, also known as AEP Ohio, agreed in its motion filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that these details could be revealed in a new version of the audit by London Economics International (LEI).

“This newly un-redacted information represents data that was publicly disclosed during the hearing, that has been determined to be publicly available, or that is being voluntarily disclosed to more transparently allow public review of the total costs and revenues” in the audit, Ohio Power said in its Jan. 4 filing.

Ohio Power claimed in its filing Thursday that the LEI audit was too long and that company officials didn’t have enough time to analyze what parts of the audit were already public information. “Given the length of the report and the short timeline to conduct the confidentiality exercise, AEP Ohio made its best efforts under the circumstances to propose redactions for those portions of the report that were competitively sensitive and maintained in secrecy,” the filing said.

Identity of OVEC’s coal suppliers now available in audit

A key detail redacted from the original public version of the LEI audit was the names of the coal suppliers for OVEC’s Clifty Creek and Kyger Creek power plants. LEI auditors had originally written that OVEC was paying too much for coal, but the names of the suppliers and the costs of that coal were redacted.

That information, however, was available to the public in reports published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which uses data supplied by the power plants themselves.

Resource Fuels of Columbus, Ohio, was the main beneficiary of the higher coal prices paid by OVEC. Its owner, Wayne Boich, was an early donor to the political fund that was used to bribe former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder and pass HB 6 in 2019. That law required Ohio electricity customers to pay a surcharge on their bills to support the habitually unprofitable OVEC power plants.

By redacting the identity of Resource Fuels from the public audit, PUCO obscured the financial motives for Resource Fuels and Boich to support HB 6. Analysts who submitted testimony to PUCO in October estimated that Resource Fuels was paid $12.6 million more for the coal it supplied Clifty Creek in 2020 than a competitor, which supplied more coal from the same coal mine.

Despite the intimate involvement of Boich executives in the HB 6 effort, the company filed lobbying reports that indicated no activity in 2019.

Ray Locker is the executive director for Checks & Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.

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