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Wednesday
Apr252018

FirstEnergy reaches agreement with itself, declares victory in coal/nuclear power plant bankruptcy

No, this is not a headline in the Onion. But it is a more truthful translation of this headline in FirstEnergy's company town paper, the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal: "FirstEnergy announces agreement with key creditors in FirstEnergy Solutions bankruptcy filing, reports ‘strong’ first-quarter earnings."

As can be read between the lines in the article, FirstEnergy's top priority is to protect its motherlode of wealth, the mothership of its enterprise, by extricating it from having anything to do with the bankruptcy at its coal and nuclear power plants.

Thank goodness for all those layers of protection against legal and financial liability, eh? FirstEnergy has gotten its money's worth for all those high-priced lawyers and accountants, that came up with these layers and layers of holding companies over the years -- and particularly recently, as the ship began to really go down! -- just for such a predicament!

The bankruptcy has resulted from not years, but decades, of bad business decisions and mismanagement.

Those who have made those bad decisions are paid very lucrative salaries. FirstEnergy's CEO, for example, makes $15 million per year, a 50% raise since he took the reins at the company in 2010.

FirstEnergy shareholders/investors too are protected.

But what about ratepayers? FirstEnergy has made an emergency appeal to the Trump Dept. of Energy for a massive bailout that would cost electric consumers from the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest, in 13 states plus D.C., a whopping $8 billion annually (yes, with a B!). The emergency petition, filed under an obscure 1950's law, usually reserved for national emergnecies like war or natural disaster (not bad business decisions!), would prop up not only FirstEnergy's several old, dirty, and dangerous coal and nuclear plants, but all 80 coal and nuclear plants, owned by numerous companies, in the PJM electric grid, stretching from North Carolina to Illinois.

The Wall Street Journal and Crain's Cleveland Business have also reported on this story (but the articles are behind pay walls).