Which Parks and Rec Character is FirstEnergy?

November 14, 2018 | 2:39 pm
Joseph Daniel
Senior Energy Analyst

FirstEnergy at it again, begging this administration for a handout.

FirstEnergy is a large, investor-owned, electric utility that operates in 13 different states. It operated a competitive generation subsidiary, First Energy Solutions (which is currently bankrupt). Recently it announced its intentions to retire two coal-fired power plants, observers believe this was just an attempt to garner support to get bailed out. The local grid operator (PJM) concluded the lights will stay on absent these two plants.

Despite being a billion-dollar corporation, FirstEnergy acts a lot like an entitled teenager. Not satisfied with its allowance, it moved out only to find out that the real world is tuff.

Now, after racking up huge amounts of debt, the spoiled brat wants to move back in and live rent-free.

And get its allowance back.

And wants all of us to pay off its debt.

And the debt of all its friends.

A problematic history

Other analysts and watchdog groups have chronicled the economic dire straights that FirstEnergy is facing and the dubious efforts they’ve engaged to try and get out the current predicament, which includes:

(this list may not be comprehensive) 

In part, a self-inflicted problem

I’ve conducted a comprehensive look at how coal-fired power plants operate in competitive energy markets including PJM, where FES does business. Two of FES’s coal-fired power plants (Kyger Creek and WH Sammis) operated for long periods of time when it would have been cheaper to just turn off.

Over the past three years, FES ran Kyger Creek and W.H. Sammis in such a way that likely imposed nearly $90 million in unnecessary costs onto FES’s financial ledger. $90 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the billions of dollars FES is seeking to be bailed out, but it goes to show you how poorly run the company is.

What does all this have to do with Parks and Rec?

In many ways, FirstEnergy reminds me of the Parks and Rec character Mona-Lisa Saperstein (portrayed by the brilliant and amazingly talented, Jenny Slate).

FirstEnergy demands to be bailed out.

Ohio says, “No.”

FirstEnergy tells everyone that without a bailout coal will retire, and it will impact reliability or even national security.

And then lobbies again for a bailout.

Meanwhile, Buckeyes, consumer advocates, environmental advocates, grid experts and plenty of other folks think that FirstEnergy is…

About the author

More from Joseph

Joseph Daniel is a senior energy analyst and manager of electricity markets with the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In his role, he serves as the primary point person for coordinating UCS’s utility regulatory work at state public utility commissions, independent system operators, and the federal energy regulatory commission.