FirstEnergy announces layoffs, told to credit customers same day

Staff report


It was a bad day for FirstEnergy on Wednesday as the company announced 250 layoffs and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio issued a ruling against the company.

It’s unknown at this time if the layoffs will impact any workers in Mahoning, Trumbull or Columbiana counties, said Mark Durbin, spokesman for the Akron-based utility company.

The company still is in the evaluation process and should have the layoffs finalized sometime in September, he said.

Reports are that layoffs include 70 support staffers at the company’s Akron headquarters. The remaining positions are expected to be cut through a combination of not filling open positions or attrition throughout the company.

The other FirstEnergy news was that the utilities commission ordered FirstEnergy to credit $43.3 million back to customers after the company overcharged them for renewable energy purchases.

It was a unanimous action by the PUCO. FirstEnergy paid a subsidiary for renewable energy and then passed excess costs along to customers. Paying much more for the energy than other nonaffiliated companies, according to the PUCO.

The company said it disagrees with the commission’s decision and plans to appeal.

“The ruling does not change the fact that pur-chasing the renewable energy credits was the only option available to us under Ohio’s clean energy law,” FirstEnergy spokesman Doug Colafella said in an email. “The decision suggests we should have ignored Ohio law and it penalizes us for following the law.”

An audit of the over- charges by Exeter Associates Inc. indicated FirstEnergy paid 15 times more than any other company in the country to subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions to buy the credits it would use to help meet Ohio’s renewable energy standard.

Associated Press reports contributed to this story.

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