Activists from 3 states demand accountability on company’s policies
MORGANTOWN, WV –(ENEWSPF)–May 21, 2013. Sierra Club volunteers gathered at the entrance of this year’s FirstEnergy shareholder’s meeting, waving signs and singing songs as executives and key investors passed by hundreds of colorful yard signs that had been set up along the roadway by volunteers traveling from as far as Ohio and Pennsylvania. The signs, charcoal grey with bright red text, listed the different ways FirstEnergy is failing its customers in the different states: “FirstEnergy Failing on Energy Efficiency,” “FirstEnergy Failing on Coal Ash,” “FirstEnergy Failing Working Families,” and “FirstEnergy Failing on Service.”
“We came down here to Morgantown to send one message to FirstEnergy: you’re accountable to the people of Ohio, and you can’t escape your failing record by changing the location of your meeting,” said Dave Simons, FirstEnergy customer and Energy Chair for the Ohio Sierra Club. “As your customers, we’re the ones paying for your rate hikes and your opposition to energy efficiency, and we demand that you clean up your act.”
FirstEnergy has consistently fallen behind other Ohio utilities in its investments into energy efficiency, has lobbied in the statehouse to roll back the standards, and has fought to resist and undermine the existing standards before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The result has been lackluster efficiency programs, including a 2009 fiasco in which customers were charged $21 for a pair of energy efficient light bulbs. Because energy efficiency lowers electricity prices and reduces the need for polluting coal-fired power, the effect of FirstEnergy’s policies has been higher prices and dirtier air for Ohioans.
The annual shareholders meeting had originally been scheduled to be held in Akron, where FirstEnergy is headquartered, and where last year’s meeting provoked a large protest. Volunteers from the Ohio Sierra Club traveled to Morgantown to show that FirstEnergy executives cannot escape their failing record by moving the location of their meeting. The Ohio volunteers were joined by others from FirstEnergy’s service area, including Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“We count on our utilities to do the best by their customers,” said Dan Sawmiller, Senior Ohio Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “Right now, FirstEnergy is wasting energy and failing Ohio. FirstEnergy needs to embrace strong energy efficiency programs that will lower our electricity prices and clean up our air.”