Scary, huh? Evil personified up there is just begging for you to draw some horns and a tail on him to complete the picture.
"The Akron power company tried but failed to get the standards scuttled or frozen just before Christmas by asking legislators to slip an amendment into unrelated legislation. But lawmakers scattered when the tactic was publicly revealed.
This time, FirstEnergy is sending a form letter written by its lobbyists to some of its larger commercial and industrial customers, asking them to fill in their company's name and send it by Friday to the Ohio Senate, which is trying to decide whether to tinker with the efficiency rules.
The company defended its tactic to gin up support for its position.
"FirstEnergy remains concerned that meeting the state's energy efficiency goals will continue to place burdensome costs on our customers, particularly Ohio businesses," the company said in a prepared statement."
Why does FirstEnergy want to do away with energy efficiency programs in Ohio? It's hurting their bottom line and working as intended to save consumers money. More money in consumer pockets through energy efficiency, less money in FirstEnergy's pocket. Investments in energy efficiency cost much less than investments in new power plants. The cheapest resource is the one you never have to build.
"FirstEnergy CEO Anthony Alexander [aka "Satan"] has said in public meetings that the rules have interfered with normal market growth, already made tough by the recession."
Right... and FirstEnergy thinks its customers are dumb enough to hurt their own bottom line by signing form letters opposing energy efficiency programs. Good luck with that, FirstEnergy, your arrogance is stunning. Some things just can't be fixed by lying to your customers, legislators, regulators and the media.
FirstEnergy has been swirling round and round the bowl
for the past few weeks.
Now the wheels have come off FirstEnergy's poorly executed plan to dump antique coal-fired electricity plants on it's West Virginia customers.Despite FirstEnergy's desperate pleas for the WV Public Service Commission to approve the company's transfer of coal plant assets from their unregulated (company financed) Ohio subsidiaries to West Virginia's regulated (ratepayer financed) subsidiaries before early May, the PSC issued an order on Feb. 11 setting a procedural schedule that won't hold hearings until the end of May. A decision won't come until several months later. FirstEnergy needs to transfer these plants between their subsidiaries to raise over a billion dollars cash that the company desperately needs to pay down its debt.It's not "
to help ensure reliable power for our Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers in West Virginia for many years to come," it's to raise desperately-needed corporate cash that West Virginia's captive ratepayers will be stuck repaying for years to come. Let's at least be honest about it, shall we, FirstEnergy?Last week, Fitch cut FirstEnergy's ratings
.On Monday, FirstEnergy reported a loss for the fourth quarter
.Yesterday, FE's stock was downgraded.Today, FirstEnergy announced a tender offer to buy back some of it's high interest rate debt.
The scheme here is to offer a premium to holders of these high interest rate bonds FE issued so that they will sell their bonds back to the company. To finance this buy back, the company will borrow money at a lower interest rate than they would have paid the holders of these bonds.Kind of reminds you of watching sick water buffalo flounder and drown, doesn't it?
Note: This post has been updated Jan. 22 to include even more bad news for FirstEnergy!
FirstEnergy may have intended its purchase of naming rights to a football stadium as a "regional branding opportunity [that] makes good business sense...,"
however the transaction will probably be written in the history books as a public relations fail of epic proportions instead.Reaction has been swift and cutting. There's been derision, anger, mockery and suspicion
, but I have yet to find one public comment that says, "Wow! Isn't that great? Now I'm going to switch my service to FirstEnergy because the company's name on a football stadium means I will receive economical, reliable, electric service." Nope, not one comment praising the deal anywhere.Rather than excitement, the people want to know:How much did this cost and is it going to find its way into my electric bill?Despite FirstEnergy refusing to disclose details of the transaction
, it didn't take long for the press to fish out that the deal cost $102 MILLION over 17 years -- that's $6M every year
that FirstEnergy will pay to have its "brand" displayed all over the stadium so that sports commentators and fans alike can make sneering comments about the company. This begs the question... Just how out of touch with the real world are FirstEnergy's executives that they wouldn't see this kind of reaction coming? There may be only 274 other CEOs who think this is a great idea. The rest of us? Yeah, not so much.FirstEnergy fails to understand that it differs from other corporations who have made similar deals because it will always be viewed by the public as providing service in a monopoly construct. Any unnecessary frills will always be seen as excess passed to captive customers.Nice going, knuckleheads.Jan. 22: Update! Jefferies Downgrades FirstEnergy to Underperforms on Rating Agency Headwinds
"We are downgrading FirstEnergy to Underperform based on growing rating agency pressure to enhance the company's credit metrics and regulatory exposure in rate proceedings in West Virginia and New Jersey."
Perhaps FE should rethink their recent actions attempting to dump uncompetitive assets into WV's regulatory system and milk ratepayers in NJ. But then again, that doesn't raise cash and improve the old balance sheet, does it.But, back to FirstEnergy's public relations fail of epic proportions...Some knucklehead thought it would be a good idea to give The Akron Beacon Journal an exclusive "behind the scenes" look at the Cleveland Browns naming-rights deal. Was that supposed to help the public identify with FirstEnergy execs.? If so, massive fail, again.The article is so bad it makes FirstEnergy look like a bunch of extras from The Godfather. Chatty Chuck (who raked in $4.7M in 2011) tries to be a "regular guy"
by proving his humility:“I do a lot of entertaining and a lot of politicking and a lot of community work. Not at Browns games. When I go there, I go as a fan,” he said. “But having said that, this was a business decision.”And where does he do his "politicking?":"Even now, when FirstEnergy has a suite at the stadium, Jones sits in seats outside."Oh yeah, slummin' with the hoi polloi. It's just too far beyond belief, especially when followed up with a little exercise in threatening/bribing the wait staff at the restaurant where the deal went down:"Jones and Ross said there was a little damage control to do after that meeting, since it was pretty clear to the wait staff what the diners were talking about. Ross said at one point, a server came in to say that the chef was a huge Browns fan and wanted to come in to say hello. The diners declined.
“We actually thought the next day we could be talking to” the media after a leak, Jones said.
Said Ross: “I don’t know what happened. Somehow they didn’t call sports radio or the newspapers.”
Said Jones, “Let’s just say we figured out how to keep it under wraps.”First of all, Chatty Chuck needs a little education: NEVER, and I do mean NEVER, piss off the people who are preparing and handling your food.
Second, your condescending attitude toward restaurant staff is not endearing to the rest of us and actually showcases your arrogance. Revolting.Football stadiums aside, the article is also a frighteningly accurate picture of the art of the corporate deal. This is how politicians get elected, regulatory cases are decided, and laws are "put in place," as our pal Michael Morris once phrased it. It all happens out of view of the public, through wining and dining, persuading and dealing, and all done on your dime through the bill you must pay for a necessary service, like electricity.Looks like FirstEnergy's public relations band-aid "tell all" confessional only added to the public derision they are currently facing.
Once again, nice going knuckleheads, and thanks for the delicious helping of schadenfreude!
"First Energy, why not cut consumers a break instead?"
That's the three foot tall slogan emblazoned on a bunch of new billboard ads in Ohio.
Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign has initiated the advertising campaign to make Ohio's FirstEnergy customers aware of how FirstEnergy is ripping them off by failing to pass on energy efficiency benefits and to generate consumer comments at the Public Utilities Commission. Check out the campaign's website here.
The very observant may even get a deja vu feeling while reading ;-)Read an article about the billboards where our lil' Coalfella whines about how unfair the campaign is. Really? FirstEnergy wants to whine about unfair right about now? Ha ha ha ha. Karma's a real bitch, boys!
Now sit back and watch how generating comments at PUCO is done. You might want to take notes to use during your next little public tiff with AEP.
Perhaps Ohio consumers should have been airing their own TV commercials in Ohio about "shopping" and AEP's capacity charges, because consumers are the big losers in today's PUCO decision
"The Commission’s decision establishes a cost-based capacity price of $188.88 per MW-day but requires AEP to charge competitive electric suppliers at a lower market-based capacity price, known as the Reliability Pricing Model (RPM) price. AEP is permitted to defer the difference between the adjusted RPM price and the cost-based price."Who do you think pays the amount AEP "defers?" Consumers do.What PUCO has done here is allow AEP to charge a higher capacity rate ($188.88), but allow FirstEnergy to pay the lower rate that they asked for ($20.01 per MW-day for 2012/2013, $33.71 for 2013/2014 and $153.89 for 2014/2015). The difference between the two prices may be "deferred" by AEP. This simply means that they book the amount of their loss in a special "deferred" account that PUCO will allow them to recover from consumers in their other rate case."The balanced outcome achieved in this case is based upon an extensive record that includes testimony from more than 20 parties,” PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler stated."Balanced? The only thing being balanced here are the interests of two huge corporations. Ohio consumers lose again. How long does Snitchler think it's going to take consumers to figure this out and start another "prairie fire?"
We've all been laughing at the AEP vs. FirstEnergy
TV commercial beat down going on in the state of Ohio. The companies are doing such a bad job presenting a coherent message, the public is left wondering what it's all about. While the commercials focus on a current AEP rate case, the FirstEnergy rate case
also going on right now before PUCO is much, much more interesting and has more potential to rip off consumers than anything AEP could dream up.You see, FirstEnergy's current rate ripoff scheme is just a small part of their long-term, grand design to manipulate markets, laws, and administrative processes
in a number of venues in order to produce incredible financial windfalls for the company. FirstEnergy put quite a lot of thought into machinations that would beat their competitors at the EPA coal plant closure game and manipulate the situation into a financial benefit for the company. FE's stockholders may see it as great business sense, but for Ohio's electric consumers, it's a huge financial loss. Whether FE will get away with pushing the legal envelope, or whether evidence of possible misdeeds will begin to float to the surface like untethered bodies, remains to be seen.It started several years ago with FirstEnergy's acquisition of Allegheny Energy and its plethora of scrubbed coal generation. Tony the Trickster admitted as much on some annoying idiot's TV talk show.
He claimed that the EPA's new rule will benefit FirstEnergy, while other companies, like AEP, were wasting their time whining and trying to lobby the rules away. Here's how FE's plan worked:1.
Acquire bigger footprint and additional scrubbed coal generation capacity.2.
Close un-scrubbed coal plants several years earlier than necessary, on very short notice, and create localized capacity shortages (especially in FirstEnergy's home base of Ohio). 3.
Generation shortage will drive capacity prices in ATSI up more than double those in the rest of the RTO. FirstEnergy will be the beneficiary of increased capacity prices.4.
Closures will result in reliability issues.
a. Possibility for very profitable "Reliability Must Run" contracts to keep plants slated for closure open until reliability solutions can be implemented.
b. Propose $1B in new transmission "reliability" solutions to be owned and constructed by FirstEnergy that source to other existing FirstEnergy-owned generation in order to lock in future market domination. The transmission will predominantly become the financial responsibility of consumers in the ATSI zone, and will consist of many small upgrades to FirstEnergy-owned transmission so as to avoid any competition for projects under FERC's Order 1000.5.
File Ohio rate case to lock in all that juicy profit and rush it through approvals!6.
Engage powerful competitor in silly tit-for-tat PR battle over their own rate case, in order to focus attention elsewhere.Here's what's turned up in FE's Ohio rate case
:Read the brief of the Ohio Consumer's Counsel. This agency, tasked with representing the interests of Ohio's residential ratepayers, was chopped and crippled by Ohio's Governor last year. The ever-struggling OCC claims that FE, with the assistance of PUCO, rushed their case through the process and disenfranchised the public. FE sought waiver of many important rules and kept evidence to a minimum. FE engineered an upfront settlement with certain parties, who all received kickbacks for their cooperation. No parties representing residential ratepayers were included in the settlement, leaving the ratepayers without representation and bearing the cost of the kickbacks the cooperating parties received. FE's switch to a three-year auction leaves ratepayers at risk of higher prices. Sure, your rates may be "stable," but that will be stably HIGH. FirstEnergy's generation affiliates will substantially benefit from the three-year auction. A distribution rider produces excessive cost to consumers and locks FirstEnergy into a guaranteed revenue stream without rate transparency. FirstEnergy escapes Ohio's "significantly excessive earnings" test. FirstEnergy's claimed "benefits" for consumers are nothing but smoke and mirrors.Read the brief of AEP Retail Energy Partners.
Be sure not to miss their handy-dandy table of all the settlement parties who financially benefited from their support of FE's plan, how much they got, and who gets to pay for it (mostly Ohio's residential ratepayers). See also AEP's arguments about how FE is, in fact, the one stifling competition in Ohio by locking customers into purchasing FE's generation. So much for a level playing field, FE, you little fibber! And this -- it's such a great line, I've got to quote it:"In effect, what is presented to the Commission and the ratepayers of the FE EDUs is much like a bad sequel. Even if one liked the original movie, there is no assurance that the sequel will be equally enjoyable. Unlike a movie, however, the FE EDU customers must stay to watch, once they have paid."But probably the most stunning evidence submitted in the case comes from The Sierra Club's brief. The brief details how FE severely underbid energy efficiency into PJM's RPM auction. FE's failure to bid even the minimum amounts of EE required by state law into the auction artificially drove up ATSI's capacity price in PJM's 2015/16 auction. FE's gaming of EE capacity cost ATSI consumers $600M in unnecessary capacity costs and prevented them from realizing an additional $39M in revenue!But, what will all this mean for Ohio consumers if FE's plan is approved? You're going to be paying more... lots more!FirstEnergy has a bunch of hungry mouths to feed, such as:CEO "Tony the Trickster" Alexander, who pulled in $18.3M in total compensation in 2011, according to FirstEnergy's SEC Proxy filing.CFO Mark Clark, who pulled in $6.6M in 2011.General Counsel Leila Vespoli, who pulled in $5.5M in 2011.Charles Jones, President of FE Utilities, who pulled in $4.7M in 2011.And then there's FirstEnergy's dead weight, retired executives, who still have their hand in the till:Gary Leidich
, who walked away with $4.4M in 2011.Paul "Mr. Burns" Evanson, who walked away with the big prize - $14.4M in 2011.So, while you're struggling to pay your increased electric bill in the future, remember how hard your friends at FirstEnergy are also "struggling."If you've heard that the EPA is causing your electric bill to "skyrocket," you're getting incorrect "information" spoon-fed to you by propagandists with an agenda. You need to work a little harder to get the unvarnished truth.
The truth is that your Ohio electric bill is going to "skyrocket" because of the financial scheming of FirstEnergy.Remember, while all those TV commercials are kinda funny, the real story can only be found elsewhere.
Time for another comedy break, brought to you by AEP & FirstEnergy, who continue to burn their shareholders' money for your own personal entertainment (because NONE of this crap is recoverable through rates, right?)The "squabble" got national coverage in Business Week recently, although the reporter seems to be among the larger crowd who just doesn't quite get it and is merely attracted by the bizarre nature of the whole spectacle... kind of like slowing down to rubberneck at the scene of an accident just to see if there are any severed heads rolling around in the median. For instance, the reporter thinks the competition tit for tat series was about... basketball (it was dodgeball!) Julie must have had a deprived childhood. Business Week also attributed one of AEP's commercials to FirstEnergy (the lunch ladies). Umm hmm... you two sure are getting out a coherent message. Too bad that message is... WTF?AEP seems oblivious that their own arrogance is sneaking up behind them and baring its teeth to take a bite. But then again, why should they care when they have PUCO on a leash? AEP has re-focused their issue on commercials shamelessly fear-mongering about jobs. Some are just plain old sappy. Thomas Edison would be ashamed of you, AEP! Unfortunately, the only ones they're scaring with this commercial are their own employees. Was that what they intended?No matter, the ads sort of fall flat because they direct viewers to "Fair Energy Ohio dot org" and use the logo from that site, which AEP dumped after being accused of running a front group. AEP must have forgotten that they re-directed that url to go to Pablo the AEP Answer Man's website, which doesn't correlate with the targeted destination in the commercials and makes the average person think they typed something wrong, or worse yet, got hoodwinked into visiting AEP's website through propaganda. Nice going, nincompoops!FirstEnergy is running as fast as they can to catch up. They actually produced a creative commercial all by themselves, so you can toss them a doggie biscuit.
Yeah, I know it's kinda cheesy and they're probably lucky some postal worker didn't happen by when they were abusing that mailbox and, well, go postal on them.Next, FirstEnergy has been paying attention in class and attempts to stir up a little of that old "PUCO is AEP's lapdog" sentiment that caused such a ruckus earlier this year.
Unfortunately, they weren't quite dumb enough to make a commercial that comes right out and says so. It's kind of like walking through a mine field to get that message across without alienating PUCO, isn't it? So, FE experimented with a couple of different ways to get the job done without leaving fingerprints. The newspaper editorial
from one of FE's lapdogs. "Too bad, all but one member of the PUCO appear determined to serve AEP first.
" The opinion from one of those angry small business owners,
where PUCO is placed in position to look like the peoples' hero, but is actually intended to dredge up the old PUCO lapdog scenario. Eh... it's not really working. They should get the guy whoOh, wait... that just wouldn't be sporting of me, now would it? Keep tippy-toeing through the mine field and listening for that telltale "click," FE!
What have our friends been up to lately in the Ohio capacity charge rumpus? Last time we checked in, AEP had scored the first victory and had moved their campaign to the AEP Ohio Answers
website where Pablo the AEP Answer Man showcases some of the ugliest ties ever and drones on painfully in video after video that nobody watches.You know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. FirstEnergy has a new video where Diffident Donny "answers your questions" too.
Except, they're not your
questions. Donny's handlers just made up a bunch of questions that they wanted him to "answer." FirstEnergy has provided no way for "you" to ask questions, so it appears that they have hired an invisible mime to "ask" Donny made-up questions via text message, or something.It looks like they gave Donny some happy pills or a couple of stiff drinks to take the starch out of him this time and sat him down in a 1970s disco set to "answer your questions." It almost works, until you watch his eyes. Blinking and breaking eye contact reveal the nervousness they couldn't medicate away.But the real curiosity here is: Has FirstEnergy hired the Clown College to do their advertising? Donny "answering your questions" bears a striking resemblance to Corky DeMarco "answering your questions" about the PATH Project two years ago.Okay... FirstEnergy is trying to keep up with AEP and making absolutely no sense. Really nothing new in that!
Keep the comedy coming, fellas!
AEP won its first real victory over FirstEnergy
in the Ohio dodgeball game today when PUCO temporarily extended AEP's $255 per megawatt-day pricing scheme until a final decision is made in the case some time in July.Pablo smirks.Donny whines.But wait... FirstEnergy has a new commercial!
Didn't PUCO watch the commercial before making their decision? When FirstEnergy was unable to drum up any real grassroots support for its own money-making schemes, they simply borrowed some hatred of AEP from the case docket.*sigh*FirstEnergy still doesn't get it.There's a little clue for FirstEnergy in the comments of the Columbus Dispatch article. Do you think they can find it, or does someone have to beat them over the head with it?What was it that made PUCO jilt AEP earlier this year when their rate increase incensed small business owners? Was it because everyone hated AEP? No, it was because everyone hated AEP's collusion with PUCO. Fear for their own safety is the only thing that spurred PUCO into action against their master. A yappy, little dog will protect the hand that feeds it until it realizes it's about to get punted in the head, at which time it will turn tail and run for its life.If FirstEnergy wants to break up PUCO's waltz with AEP they need to whip up a little public anger accusing PUCO of, once again, being caught in a state of dishabille