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FirstEnergy to eliminate 250 positions, including 70 layoffs in Akron area in September

By Betty Lin-Fisher
Beacon Journal staff report

FirstEnergy Corp. will eliminate 250 jobs companywide, including laying off 70 support staffers at the company’s Akron headquarters and area operations.

The layoffs of 70 corporate support staff will occur at the Akron downtown headquarters, the West Akron campus and regional headquarters elsewhere in the service territory, spokeswoman Tricia Ingraham said.

The cuts will come in September, she said.

Ingraham said she did not know whether any cuts would be in management. Currently, there are 2,458 employees who work in Summit County.

The other 180 job eliminations will be in the form of not filling open positions or attrition companywide for the electric company and parent company of Ohio Edison, she said. There are 16,400 total employees companywide.

In a conference call with analysts Tuesday, FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Anthony Alexander said the actions “include reductions to medical and other benefits, and additional organizational cuts, including a reduction in staffing and corporate support and the elimination of certain open positions throughout the organization.”

Alexander said the cuts are expected to reduce costs $150 million to $200 million annually, beginning in 2014, with some impact in 2013 as changes are implemented.

Ingraham said the company’s health-care changes beginning in 2014 include eliminating Aetna as a medical insurance provider and going solely with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. The number of medical plans offered to employees will remain the same in 2014, but plan options will change.

The company also will eliminate its subsidy for dental coverage, making employees pay 100 percent of the premium. FirstEnergy is also eliminating its contribution to its Consumer High Deductible Health Plan health savings account.

FirstEnergy also said it would be moving to a cash-balance pension plan for employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2014.

“While this will not impact current pension obligations, it should change our pension responsibilities over time,” Alexander said.

In a question-and-answer period, Alexander said the medical and pension changes affect benefits offered to current employees but not retirees.

Ingraham said the change to the pension plan does not have any effect on current employees’ benefits or how they earn their pensions but with what future employees can do with their pensions when they leave the company.

The company also previously had announced the closing of two coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania: Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station and Mitchell Power Station. In July, the company said the costs of complying with the current and future environmental regulations and low electric prices contributed to the plant closures. FirstEnergy Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer James Pearson said 380 positions would be eliminated through deactivation of the plants.

Alexander in the conference call also said the company has canceled or delayed “certain investments in other generating facilities which are expected to further reduce the capital needs in our competitive generation fleet by about $375 million.”


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