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The company expects to have the crippled plant ready for restart in April.



Published: Sun, February 16, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The company expects to have the crippled plant ready for restart in April.

AKRON (AP) -- FirstEnergy Corp. said the damaged Davis-Besse nuclear power plant cost the company $235 million last year.

The company reported a fourth-quarter loss Thursday of $30.8 million, or 10 cents per share, on revenues of $3 billion. In the same period in 2001, FirstEnergy earned $168.6 million, or 64 cents per share, on revenues of $2.3 billion.

For the full year, FirstEnergy's earnings were down 2.7 percent.

FirstEnergy shares on the New York Stock Exchange closed Thursday up $1.54, or 5.6 percent, to $29.19.

The plant

The Davis-Besse costs were $97 million for the quarter, including operating, maintenance and replacement energy expenses. The per share charges for the costs were 19 cents for the fourth quarter and 47 cents for the year.

Davis-Besse has been shut down since last February when it was closed for maintenance. A month later a leak was discovered that had allowed boric acid to eat nearly through the 6-inch-thick steel cap covering the plant's reactor vessel.

The company's earnings statement did not break out specific costs for fixing the plant. FirstEnergy spokeswoman Kristen Baird said the cost just for replacing the plant's reactor head has been estimated at between $50 million and $75 million, but such costs are not all charged against current earnings.

FirstEnergy said it expects the plant in Oak Harbor to be ready for restart in April. The reopening date will be determined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"There is a tremendous amount of (NRC) inspection activity that's got to be done, but they've indicated to us that those inspections dovetail into our schedule," Gary R. Leidich, executive vice president of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co., said in a conference call with securities analysts.

Net income

For all of 2002, net income was $629.3 million, or $2.14 per share, including the effect of accounting changes, Davis-Besse costs and other unusual charges. The Davis-Besse charge against earnings, after taxes, was $139.2 million.

Without the charges, earnings totaled $1 billion, or $3.40. Revenues totaled $12.15 billion.

FirstEnergy in December projected earnings from operations in the range of $3.30 to $3.45 per share, without unusual charges.

Net income for 2001 was $646.4 million, or $2.82 per share, with revenues of $8 billion.




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