portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting united states

corporate dominance | environment | health

FirstEnergy puts Profits first and Safety last

H. Peter Burg is a VERY good friend to the Republican Party, and his company FirstEnergy has benefited greatly from his patronage -- they have eluded NRC oversight and rigorous prosecution for pollition. Not that anyone really cared or notice ... until last Thursday when the lights went out.

FirstEnergy closes merger with GPU
Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections, 06-11-01
FirstEnergy, headquartered in Akron, Ohio, will be a registered holding company. Its various subsidiaries have annual revenues of more than $12 billion, and electric sales of approximately 124 billion kW-hours. Its seven electric utility operating companies -- Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company, Toledo Edison, Metropolitan Edison, Pennsylvania Electric, Pennsylvania Power and Jersey Central Power & Light -- comprise the nation's fourth largest investor-owned electric system, based on serving 4.3 mm customers in a 36,100-square-mile service area that stretches from the Ohio- Indiana border to the New Jersey shore.

The following members of the Board of Directors have been named from FirstEnergy:

H. Peter Burg, FirstEnergy vice chairman and CEO
Dr. Carol A. Cartwright, president of Kent State University;
William F. Conway, president of William F. Conway & Associates;
Robert B. Heisler, Jr., chairman and CEO of KeyBank and executive vice president of KeyCorp;
Robert L. Loughhead, retired chairman of the board, president and CEO of Weirton Steel;
Russell W. Maier, retired chairman of the boardand CEO of Republic Engineered Steels;
Paul J. Powers, retired chairman of the board and CEO of Commercial Intertech;
Robert C. Savage, president and CEO of Savage & Associates;
George M. Smart, president of Sonoco-Phoenix;
and Jesse T. Williams, Sr., retired vice president of Human Resources Policy, Employment Practices and Systems of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

The following members of the Board of Directors have been named from GPU:
Fred D. Hafer, FirstEnergy chairman;
John M. Pietruski, chairman of the board of Texas Biotechnology;
Robert N. Pokelwaldt, retired chairman of the board and CEO of YORK International;
Catherine A. Rein, president and CEO of Metropolitan Property and Casualty;
Carlisle A.H. Trost, Admiral, United States Navy (retired), former chief of naval operations;
Dr. Patricia K. Woolf, consultant, author and lecturer, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University.

The UnCalifornia?
Akron Beacon Journal, December 28, 2000
FirstEnergy remains at its core an electricity generator and provider. It also supplies new products, natural gas, construction, contracting and telecommunications. The announced merger with GPU of New Jersey will create an Akron-based company of $12 billion in annual revenues and more than 14,000 employees. Burg took care to remind his audience the company's place in this community will grow, too.

Of course, the assurance almost everyone wanted involved the electricity deregulation that begins in Ohio next week. Who doesn't look west and wonder: Are we next? Will Ohio face the miseries in California, skyrocketing prices and shortages of power? Burg didn't make promises. He would like to see incentives to build additional generating capacity and an improved transmission grid.

Davis-Besse plan up in air
Jim Mackinnon, Beacon Journal, May 22, 2002
...AKRON -- "Amy Ryder of Ohio Citizen Action asked [FirstEnergy chief Peter] Burg if the company will pay for an independent panel of experts to oversee operations at the plant. Her organization and others, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, petitioned the NRC in April to create the four-person oversight group, which would be funded by FirstEnergy. 'We are paying every person under the sun to get us out of the mess we're in,' Burg aid,"

Trust names Catholic Charities of Cleveland the clean air "Villian of the Month"
Clean Air Trust, June 2002
...The Ohio-based group was cited because it testified today in the United States Senate in opposition to legislation aimed at reducing harmful pollution from coal-burning electric power plants. Catholic Charities' position was "truly startling," said O'Donnell, because its eight-county service area in Northeast Ohio includes 185,000 people who suffer from asthma, including 36,000 children, according to American Lung Association statistics. Nearly all of these children live in neighborhoods hardest hit by pollution generated by power plants in the Cleveland area.

O'Donnell noted that it was a "curious coincidence" that the group's fund-raising arm, Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Foundation, includes on its board of trustees one H. Peter Burg, Chairman and CEO of FirstEnergy Corp., which is being sued by the Justice Department for alleged violations of air pollution requirements. FirstEnergy is a prominent member of the Edison Electric Institute.

FirstEnergy's PAC (to which Burg has contributed) has given 2002 cycle campaign contributions to several senators on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, including Senators George Voinovich (R-OH), Bob Smith (R-NH), James Inhofe (R-OK), Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Bob Graham (D-FL).

Privately, Burg has also contributed this campaign cycle to Senator Bob Smith, to the Edison Electric Institute's PAC, to Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) and to various members of the House of Representatives.

Catholic Charities of Cleveland is no stranger to political controversy. In 2000, it hosted presidential campaigner George Bush, who was then reeling from primary defeats by John McCain and a controversial speech that Bush had made at Bob Jones University. Bush used a Catholic Charities facility to make another speech that helped right his campaign right before the crucial "Super Tuesday" primaries.

Cheney raises $40,000 a minute during speech in NE Ohio
Steve Luttner, Plain Dealer Reporter, July 1, 2003
...The fund-raiser was organized in part by Tim Timken, president of Canton-based Timken Co.; Richard Smucker, president of Orrville-based J.M. Smucker Co.; and Peter Burg, chairman and chief executive of FirstEnergy Corp...

FirstEnergy Falls 18.Aug.2003 21:24


FirstEnergy Falls; Power Lines Failed Before Blackout

Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) -- FirstEnergy Corp. shares and bonds plunged after the Ohio utility company said four of its high- voltage lines and a power plant failed hours before last week's blackout, the largest in North American history...

FirstEnergy already was facing higher costs because of a blackout last month in New Jersey and reactor damage that idled an Ohio nuclear power plant 19 months ago. Hours before the lights went out Thursday in parts of the U.S. and Canada, Moody's Investors Service said it may lower its ratings on $14 billion in FirstEnergy debt.

``With all the potential liability from the blackouts and facing the wrath of regulators, I don't see how they can keep an investment-grade rating,'' said Dorothea Matthews, a utility analyst at CreditSights Inc. who rates FirstEnergy bonds at ``underweight'' and doesn't own any.