FirstEnergy wants you to believe that it is environmentally friendly because it has "invested" lots of money over the years trying to make its antique coal plants meet new environmental regulations. What happens when FirstEnergy "invests" in plant upgrades? You pay them back, plus interest! The more FirstEnergy "invests," the more profit they make for their shareholders. And it's not like FirstEnergy ever made these upgrades voluntarily, it was dragged, kicking and screaming all the way, by new regulations. FirstEnergy does the bare minimum to comply, but that's often after spending money trying to influence or prevent the regulations in the first place. And then they scheme up underhanded plots to prolong the lives of their dirty coal plants by "selling" them to regulated affiliates in West Virginia, or forcing Ohio ratepayers to enter into power purchase agreements with the plants at above-market prices.
The Ohio debacle has been going on for months and FirstEnergy's reputation is in the toilet. Does FirstEnergy think that pretending to be environmentally responsible will somehow improve its chances of getting its coal plant bailout approved? Highly unlikely, but it's going to cost ratepayers a mint. FirstEnergy's uninspired dreck is reminiscent of its failed 2012 advertising battle with rival AEP. It's too complicated and it's boring.
Like anyone is going to read their sustainability report?
Or that anyone wants to listen to their CEO in a suit blather on making empty promises? Was that an attempt at plain folks propaganda? If so, it fails miserably because that guy isn't presented as a "plain" folk. It's a rich guy disconnected from reality that's just tooting his own horn. Boring!
Their infographic is just a bunch of hot air. "We're changing!" is but a glittering generality. How is FirstEnergy changing? Oh, they promise to reduce their environmental footprint by some unknown percentage, if only Ohio ratepayers prop their dirty coal plants up for a number of years. Gosh, FirstEnergy, why not start your environmentally responsible game plan right now, close those old plants, and withdraw your request for a ratepayer bailout? Nothing like a little deed to back up your promises, right?
And speaking of deeds, FirstEnergy is going to spend millions advertising its community largesse during the Super Bowl. FirstEnergy donated 4 lights to a community project to make over a football field. That's great! FirstEnergy employees donated their time to install them (Did the company pay these employees for their donated time? I doubt it!) FirstEnergy's actual charity pales in comparison to the amount of money the company is spending crowing about its goodwill on television. What if... FirstEnergy spent those millions in the community, instead of pissing them away on self-aggrandizing advertising? How many football fields could be built with $5M?
How much is this new advertising presence intended to support and influence the regulatory process for FirstEnergy's Ohio coal bailout? And how much is reimbursable "goodwill" advertising?
Compare FirstEnergy's weak advertising campaign with the one launched the other day by competitive Ohio generators pooling their resources as the Alliance for Energy Choice. In their ads, plain folks are charged $20 for a cup of coffee and $58 for a pizza because the merchant is relying on old and inefficient equipment to deliver the product. Take a note, FirstEnergy, these are the kinds of commercials to which regular folks pay attention and respond. Nobody needs an infographic to understand them, nobody needs to read a dry, boring report to get the message, and nobody is wearing a suit and reciting a monologue.
FirstEnergy's advertising ideas as just as uninspired and uninteresting as they've ever been, however the price tag for them is bigger than ever. What a bunch of dopes!