FirstEnergy Corp. has offered buyouts to nearly 600 support staff members, including more than 200 who work in the Akron area.

About 100 of these Akron area employees work in the corporation’s downtown Akron headquarters on South Main Street.

The company will know after Monday how many of the nearly 600 employees have accepted the buyout offer.

FirstEnergy offered the buyouts earlier this month.

The employees all work for a subsidiary, created in 2001, called FirstEnergy Support Services Co. — which oversees human resources, information technology and communications for the parent corporation’s divisions.

Prompting the buyout offer — called an “enhanced retirement program” by the company — was FirstEnergy’s decision to exit its competitive businesses, including its coal-fired plants and nuclear power plants, and become a fully regulated utility again.

FirstEnergy Solutions, the subsidiary that owns the power plants, and FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

FirstEnergy Solutions cited costly environmental requirements, weak electricity demand and strong competition from cheap, fracked natural gas and renewable energy sources as reasons for needing to reorganize under Chapter 11.

“We’re going to become a regulated only company,” FirstEnergy spokeswoman Diane Francis said Thursday. “We need fewer support staff to support regulated-only operations.”

Personnel such as line workers, meter readers and customer service workers were not among employees eligible for the buyout.

Francis said most of the 600 eligible employees work in either the Akron area or in Pennsylvania, where FirstEnergy owns utilities.

Workers offered buyouts in the Akron area include the roughly 100 in downtown Akron as well as about 130 who work at FirstEnergy’s White Pond Drive location in West Akron and other facilities.

Total FirstEnergy employment at the downtown Akron office tower is about 1,000; workers occupy all of the South Main Street building. FirstEnergy employs about 550 at the White Pond site.

Employees had until 5 p.m. Wednesday to accept buyouts, but those who waited until the last minute to accept have until 5 p.m. Monday to change their minds.

The employees offered buyouts are nonunion workers with at least 10 years of service and who are at least 58 years old.

They were eligible for lump-sum payments based on base pay and their years of service, as well as health benefits and prescription coverage also tied to their years of service.

Also included in the severance package: a $1,500 monthly payment for at least 24 months or until the employee reaches the age of 65. FirstEnergy Support Services’ employment totals about 2,400, Francis said.

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.