Thursday, 09 March 2017 12:06

AUDIO How Power Restoration Works

When a weather event such as the "Winds-day" storms sweep across the area and knock out power by the thousands, exactly what goes into the process FirstEnergy, like other electric utilities, use to restore service?

FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin says it starts with the obvious "9-1-1 calls" with immediate safety concerns posed by live wires falling from utility poles. A complicating factor is crews don't always know before they are dispatched whether the downed lines are for electricity, cable television, telephone or fiber optic use but either way restoring service starts with cleaning up downed lines. Then the utility works with local agencies such as police and fire to safely reopen streets which may have been closed due to downed lines. 

Getting service restored to critical organizations comes next: that list includes hospitals, nursing homes and critical care facilities along with police, fire and emergency responders. Then the condition of the electric grid is analyzed to determine where the quickest work can more efficiently restored to the greatest number of customers. Durbin says residential customers with health devices can also call the utility and be placed on a database list, although those customers are best advised to have some form of power backup such as a generator to make sure critical service is uninterrupted.

Then the utility focuses on service impacting smaller numbers of outages, such as the one or two houses immediately impacted by falling trees. And it's the trees that pose the biggest issue on the restoration landscape; Durbin notes that while much of the charm and beauty of northeast Ohio is found in the woodlands we all enjoy, those same tree-shrouded walkways and streets are a liability not only when lines are taken down by fallen limbs but also in allowing for quicker response by utility crews needing to move equipment in and out of storm-ravaged areas to attack the outage.



Published in Local
Friday, 13 January 2017 09:32

Akron Utility Wins High Response Marks

Providing a helping hand during times of trouble doesn't go unrecognized. Akron-based FirstEnergy honored with the "Emergency Assistance Award" from an electric utility group for it's support of southern power systems following Hurricane Matthew last year. FirstEnergy sent hundreds of line workers to Florida and South Carolina last October to help restore power for more than a million customers. The local utility was also recognized for it's own efforts following storms in West Virginia caused power outages for customers of it's Mon Power subsidiary.

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(FirstEnergy) For the 11th consecutive year, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) has earned recognition for its emergency response efforts from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a leading electric industry organization.

FirstEnergy was honored with the “Emergency Assistance Award” as a result of sending about 600 line workers, contractors and support personnel to assist Florida Power and Light and Duke Energy after Hurricane Matthew caused large-scale power outages along the East Coast. Over a 10-day period in early October last year, FirstEnergy personnel were part of an effort that helped restore electric service to 1.2 million Florida Power and Light customers in Florida and 157,000 Duke Energy customers in South Carolina.

FirstEnergy also earned the “Emergency Recovery Award” for restoration efforts of its own customers following severe thunderstorms and flooding that caused more than 70,000 Mon Power customers in West Virginia to lose power in late June of last year. More than 1,000 company line workers, contractors, damage assessors and support personnel were part of the restoration effort. Despite accessibility issues with flooded substations and multiple transmission structures being damaged in inaccessible mountain areas, FirstEnergy crews were able to restore more than 90 percent of the customers within four days.

“The tireless work of FirstEnergy’s crews to quickly and safely restore service to customers, and to lend assistance to neighboring electric companies, demonstrates the industry’s strong commitment to customer service,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “FirstEnergy’s dedicated crews who faced challenging conditions are greatly deserving of this recognition.”

“Receiving both awards is a special honor because it means our employees used their considerable skills in difficult work environments to benefit our own customers, and those of other utilities,” said Steven Strah, senior vice president of FirstEnergy and president of FirstEnergy Utilities. “What is most impressive is that the repairs were made with no accidents or injuries, which is a testament to our employees’ commitment to safety.”

EEI presents these awards to member companies to recognize extraordinary efforts to restore power or for assisting other electric companies after service disruptions caused by severe weather conditions and other natural events. Winners are chosen by an independent panel of electric industry experts following an international nomination process. The awards were presented January 11, 2017, during the winter EEI Board of Directors and CEO meeting in Florida.

Published in Local
Wednesday, 12 October 2016 17:44

PUCO Slaps Back FirstEnergy Bid

A proposal from Akron-based FirstEnergy styled as an electric security plan was modified by Ohio's Public Utilities Commission to a fraction of what the company submitted, and now the utility is mulling over other steps it might take.

The Electric Security Plan was originally approved by state regulators in March after months of deliberations and opposition that included well-funded media campaigns from other competing utilities.

The FirstEnergy proposal originally sought an eight-year approval to generate $558 million dollars per year in what is termed a "Distribution Modernization Rider," or DMR, which would provide the utility with capital to modernize it's electric distribution system. Under the modifications approved by the PUCO released today, that DMR was instead set at $132 million dollars annually over a three-year period with an additional two-year extension possible.

PUCO Chairman Asim Z. Haque said "We expect that these future endeavors will advance the electric industry in FirstEnergy's service territory and benefit Ohio's consumers and businesses."

The bottom line for most customers, FirstEnergy said in a news release, is an average increase of $3 monthly for the average customer using 750 kilowatt-hours per month. FirstEnergy says the overall monthly bills will still be lower than over the past year but CEO Charles E. Jones called the decision "disappointing" and said it would leave the company short in what was needed to cover necessary investments.

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(PUCO)The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today rejected FirstEnergy's modified Retail Rate Stability (RRS) rider or "virtual PPA" proposal. The Commission ordered FirstEnergy's Ohio utilities to establish PUCO staff's recommended Distribution Modernization Rider (DMR) instead, and to eliminate the existing RRS rider.

In its application for rehearing, FirstEnergy proposed to modify rider RRS such that it would continue as a financial hedge, but would not be tied to the physical operation of generation in the state. The Commission rejected FirstEnergy's proposal because it lacked important benefits related to reliability, resource diversity and economic development.

Rider DMR, set at $132.5 million per year (to be grossed up for taxes annually), will provide FirstEnergy with an infusion of capital so that it will be financially healthy enough to make future investments in grid modernization. The Commission limited Rider DMR to three years, with the possibility of a two-year extension, subject to Commission approval. FirstEnergy requested that Rider DMR be granted in the amount of $558 million per year for eight years.

During the term of rider DMR, FirstEnergy will maintain its headquarters in Akron, Ohio, and make sufficient progress in grid modernization initiatives ordered by the Commission, including its deployment of smart grid technology in the companies' service territories.

"The DMR's primary purpose is to ensure that FirstEnergy retains a certain level of financial health and creditworthiness so that it can invest in future distribution modernization endeavors," stated Chairman Asim Z. Haque. "We expect that these future endeavors will advance the electric industry in FirstEnergy's service territory and benefit Ohio's consumers and businesses."

In May, FirstEnergy and other interested parties filed applications for rehearing following the PUCO's March 31, 2016 opinion and order establishing an electric security plan. An evidentiary hearing was held at the PUCO in July and August 2016 in order for interested parties to provide testimony on the rehearing applications.

A copy of the PUCO order can be read here. 

Response from FirstEnergy

(FirstEnergy Corporation)FirstEnergy Corp.'s (NYSE: FE) Ohio utilities – Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating and Toledo Edison – today announced that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has approved modifications to Powering Ohio's Progress, the companies' comprehensive Electric Security Plan (ESP) originally approved in March.

The PUCO order authorizes the companies to collect approximately $204 million per year over a three-year term. The charge is expected to result in a $3 increase on monthly bills, or about three percent, for a typical residential customer using 750 kilowatt-hours per month. With the new charge, total monthly bills for FirstEnergy's residential customers are expected to be lower than they were a year ago and remain among the lowest in the state.

"Today's decision is disappointing for our customers," said Charles E. Jones, FirstEnergy President and Chief Executive Officer. "While we clearly demonstrated to the PUCO what is essential to ensure reliability for customers in the future, the amount granted is insufficient to cover the necessary and costly investments. The decision also fails to recognize the significant challenges that threaten Ohio utilities' ability to effectively operate." 

The company is evaluating the Commission's order and considering next steps.

Published in Local
Tuesday, 27 October 2015 15:52

Marathon Growing -- Including The Name

Get ready for a mouthful; The Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series Marathon, Half-Marathon and Team Relay will become the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series Marathon, Half-Marathon and Team Relay presented by FirstEnergy. And that's a good thing.

It may take a few breaths to get the name out, but it does show the deep level of support and backing one of the premier events showcasing Akron enjoys locally from the Akron business community. Two of the business community's heavyweights reinforced that message as Bill Considine, CEO of Akron Children's Hospital and Chuck Jones, CEO of FirstEnergy, teamed with Akron Mayor Jeff Fusco and Akron Marathon founder Steve Marks to announce the event's new sponsorships.

ACH AMA RaceSeries 13REL26 RGB FirstEnergyAkron Children's Hospital stepped in last month and FirstEnergy signed up as a presenting sponsor, something the Akron-based utility wanted to do before Time Warner first led as presenting sponsor in 2003. Jones said the utility sees the sponsorship as continuation of what it's done giving back to the communities it serves across it's five-state footprint.

"Our headquarters is here, this will always be our home, it's been our home for over a hundred years," Jones said. "Akron's a great community...I'm proud of the growth that it's seen, how it's transformed itself from the rubber capital of the world to a vibrant city."

Considine is a key player among Akron's corporate and community leaders.

"We're pretty excited about it. It unites the community," Considine said. "It's a national event...we're a national hospital, seeing patients from all 50 states at Akron Children's Hospital. An event like the Akron Marathon shows the community cares." Considine called Akron a "champion city" and said the Marathon is an "image builder" for Akron. 

"The Akron Marathon has always been about community, and we're extremely happy one of the largest employers in Summit County has stepped up," said Marathon founder Steve Marks.

The Akron Marathon drew more than 20,000 participants during it's events in 2015 with events including the full marathon, half-marathon, relay and other races.

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(Akron Marathon)FirstEnergy Corp. has signed a three-year agreement with the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series to serve as the presenting sponsor of the Marathon, Half Marathon and Team Relay held each September. The announcement was made Tuesday at a special event at Cascade Plaza in downtown Akron.

FirstEnergy replaces Time Warner Cable, which had served as presenting sponsor since the Akron Marathon's inception in 2003.

"The Akron Marathon has always been about community and we're extremely happy one of the largest employers in Summit County has stepped up to become presenting sponsor," said Steve Marks, Akron Marathon founder. "At the same time, we'd like to thank Time Warner Cable for being a great partner for the first 13 years of the event."

Headquartered in Akron, FirstEnergy has more than 15,000 employees who serve six million customers across six states.

"We're thrilled to partner with Akron Children's Hospital to increase our sponsorship of the Akron Marathon," said Chuck Jones, president and CEO of FirstEnergy. "This race has become a nationally-respected event, both because it's so well-organized and because of the tremendous ways this community has embraced it. Many of our employees and customers run, volunteer and cheer for this event every year, making this a perfect fit for FirstEnergy."

FirstEnergy has been a major sponsor of the Akron marathon since its inception in 2003.

The inaugural Akron Marathon featured 3,775 participants and has grown to more than 14,000 across the weekend's events. The marquee event generates more than $6 million in economic activity and generates thousands of dollars more in contributions to countless charities.

"FirstEnergy has been a longtime partner of Akron Children's Hospital, and we are delighted that they accepted our invitation to step up to presenting sponsor of the marathon as we become the race's title beneficiary in 2016," said Bill Considine, Akron Children's Hospital president and CEO. "We are grateful to FirstEnergy and all the individuals and organizations who are so civic-minded and make Akron such a great place to live."

Known as the Akron Marathon Rubber City Race Series in 2015, more than 20,000 runners participated across the three events. The series dates were developed to help guide runners through a typical training schedule leading up to the marquee events. The 2016 events will be held June 25 (8k & 1-Mile), August 13 (Half Marathon & 10k) and Sept. 24 (Full Marathon, Half Marathon, Team Relay & Kids Fun Run). Registration is scheduled to open this winter.

Published in Local
Monday, 26 October 2015 13:39

Another Name For Running

The Akron Marathon's official name is getting even longer, with official word coming Tuesday afternoon.

It was a mouthful when the Akron Marathon Race Series became the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series, and now you can add another title name sponsor into the mix.

Officials from Akron Children's Hospital, the Akron Marathon and FirstEnergy will be announcing even more support for the event that's grown into a national race. All are tight-lipped ahead of the announcement Tuesday afternoon but FirstEnergy will take title of one of the Akron Marathon signature races.

There is a delicious irony to FirstEnergy's sponsorship; the utility already sponsors the All-American Soap Box Derby by name, meaning it'll be a title sponsor on two Akron-based races -- one billed as a thrill down the hill thanks to and the other based on human-powered motion, both unaided by engines or motors. Neither race needing electricity.

Published in Local