CEO: FirstEnergy might exit competitive electricity business
CLEVELAND (AP) — FirstEnergy’s CEO said the Akron-based company will sell or close its big coal and nuclear power plants in the next two years if Ohio and Pennsylvania don’t resume regulating and setting prices for them or create a regulation-like structure.
CEO Chuck Jones talked about getting out of the competitive electricity business in comments Tuesday to analysts at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual financial conference, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported.
The coal plants in Pennsylvania are owned by FirstEnergy Solutions and Allegheny Energy Supply. Jones said the unregulated subsidiaries can’t afford to operate the plants at current power prices, and FirstEnergy won’t let the subsidiaries’ problems affect the parent company.
The company’s power plants compete on regional wholesale markets, and gas-fired plants and wind farms have pushed down prices.
The company also is seeking re-regulation for its “zero (carbon) emission” nuclear power plants — Davis-Besse and Perry on Lake Erie in Ohio and Beavery Valley on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh. Those facilities have 3,500 employees.
“Do I think that is going to happen? No. So beyond that, I think we’ve got to let it play out,” Jones said. “I think the outcome is that some units get sold. I think some … get shutdown.”
Jones said FirstEnergy isn’t waiting on officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania to decide what they’ll do and plans to talk with state lawmakers and regulators this week.
“The ideal would be Pennsylvania and Ohio saying on Jan. 1 that we are re-regulating all these plants and putting this industry back to a way that really makes sense, I believe, for the long term,” Jones said.