Editorial: FirstEnergy award shames development


A recent editorial by the Toledo Blade:

The news isn’t all bad for FirstEnergy.

The utility giant that serves Toledo has been recognized by economic development trade publication, Site Selection magazine, as one of the nation’s “top utilities for economic development.”

It’s the fourth year in a row FirstEnergy has been honored for economic development work and the 18th time in 20 years Site Selection has judged the Akron-based utility as a job creation juggernaut for Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and Maryland.

Site Selection is often cited in economic development circles, so the entire industry suffers when their credibility is made questionable by continuing honors to FirstEnergy, without explanation of the utility’s status as the instigator of the worst scandal in Ohio history.

FirstEnergy agreed to pay a $230 million-dollar fine in a deferred plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice for admitted bribes of $60 million to secure passage of Ohio House Bill 6.

It was that infamous legislation which forced consumers to subsidize nuclear and coal power plants and locked in a rate adjustment guaranteeing excess profit for FirstEnergy.

It’s important that everyone connected with economic development, especially citizen-voters, realize forcing a billion dollar annual subsidy for a utility takes money from consumers that could otherwise be spent in local businesses.

It makes the fixed costs of large manufacturing or commercial operations higher than in competing locations and therefore is antithetical to competitiveness.

It pains us to point out facts that should be well known in the economic development field. It is just as painful to see trade journalism reduced to boosterish blather rather than deeply insightful reporting on such an important endeavor as economic development.

The facts FirstEnergy admits to in the government’s Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organization Act case are against the law.

But the impact to Ohio prosperity had those acts gone undetected and been allowed to stand, are literally against everything economic development is supposed to represent.

FirstEnergy corrupted Ohio government to reap parasitic profit.

Site Selection should be ashamed their standards of judgment for utility excellence don’t include integrity.

— Toledo Blade, September 19, 2022