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FirstEnergy Credit Ratings Downgraded To Junk Status

FirstEnergy's credit rating has hit below investment grade or "junk" status by the three big rating agencies; Fitch, Moody's, and S&P. It's another blow to the company that has experienced a tumultuous year after being linked to a $61 million alleged racketeering scheme.

Moody's has downgraded FirstEnergy's credit rating to Ba1, while S&P and Fitch have put the company at a BB+ rating.

In July, federal investigators revealed a bribery scheme that alleged a utility, widely believed to be FirstEnergy, funneled millions of dollars to a dark money group in order to help Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) get elected as House Speaker.

In return, Householder with the help of that dark money group push for a sweeping energy bill, HB6, that accomplished several things on FirstEnergy's legislative agenda, including a nuclear power plant bailout.

Since then, a FirstEnergy lobbyist has pleaded guilty to the racketeering charge, CEO Chuck Jones was fired for undisclosed violations, and FirstEnergy wrote in an SEC filing that former executives paid $4 million to a company associated with someone who became a state regulator.

The company says it has created new accountability measures to address these issues and does not provide comment on rating agency actions.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.