FirstEnergy Corp. on Thursday laid off 142 employees, including 56 in the Akron area.
The plans for the layoffs, with no details, were originally disclosed in late September. At that time, the Akron-based electric utility said it would be conducting “an organizational study to determine how its work force should be aligned to best meet the challenges of the continued weak economy.”
The company said then it expected to reduce its staff by 200 — mostly in Akron, and that further reductions would be expected in 2013.
Company spokesman Mark Durbin said the final number was the 142, not 200.
“These are steps we had to take. It’s a very difficult part of the ongoing process to meet challenges and meet long-term goals. It’s never a good day when you have to do this. The economy forced our hand,” he said.
Company officials had said the review would cover corporate support departments and FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary that competes with other electricity providers.
The departments involved were said to include office support and divisions such as business development, corporate affairs, human resources, information technology and supply chain. At the time, the company also said the review would include management.
Employees losing their jobs will be eligible for benefits under FirstEnergy’s severance plan.
The company said reductions in 2013 are still expected but instead of layoffs, some jobs will not be filled.
Durbin said he did not have a specific breakdown of the 56 Akron-area employees, but all of the cuts were in shared services, also considered support services, such as communications, information technology and supply chain. There were no line workers included, he said.
In Akron, the cuts were both at FirstEnergy headquarters downtown and at the White Pond Drive facility, which also houses FirstEnergy Solutions.
The other layoffs were in Greensburg, Pa., at the former Allegheny Energy headquarters operations in Reading, Pa., and the remainder were spread out among other FirstEnergy operations, Durbin said. He did not know whether any managers were let go. FirstEnergy and Allegheny merged in 2011.
In August, FirstEnergy said it employed 16,953, with 2,475 in Summit County, including its downtown headquarters. A recent listing of Summit County employers by the publication Crain’s Cleveland Business showed FirstEnergy as the eighth largest employer. Excluding hospitals, schools and government, FirstEnergy ranks second behind Goodyear.
The company announced the cuts as it continued to work to restore power from Hurricane Sandy and its effects in the Cleveland area. Durbin said the company had planned to notify those affected by the layoffs on Nov. 1, and “even though there is a lot of activity, we just thought it was best to stick to that.”
As of Thursday morning, there was still no power for about 100,000 customers in its Illuminating Co. service area in Cleveland and about 1,500 customers in the Ohio Edison territory. In the Akron area, a small number of homes in Bath Township and other areas were affected. Durbin said crews hoped to have those areas restored by the evening. In the New Jersey Central Power & Light territory, there were still more than 918,000 customers without power.