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Economy and Business

First Energy expects to lay off 200 in Akron
Utility says lower demand for electricity leads to lay offs at Akron headquarters starting in early November

Simon Husted

About 200 layoffs are expected to hit Akron weeks before Christmas season begins.

First Energy announced Wednesday that it is reducing the workforce in its Akron area offices by more than 8 percent in early November.

Company spokesman Todd Schneider says the layoffs are necessary because of weak demand brought on by the slow recovery.

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“Power prices are at the lowest level since 2002, and demand for electricity is essentially flat,” says Schneider. “There’s no growth in the market. People aren’t using more and more electricity. Its maintained pretty steady at the same usage rates for the past several years.” 

First Energy doubled its size in 2010 when it bought Allegheny Energy for $4.7 billion.

Earlier this year, the Akron-based utilities company announced plans to shut down six coal-powered plants by this fall because of low demand and EPA regulations. Three plants along Lake Erie have since been required to stay in operation at least through 2015 to keep the power grid stable. First Energy says it will have to spend $1 billion to upgrade the plants to meet new EPA standards.  

Schneider says the November lay-offs are focused mostly on the company’s administrative staff.

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