Davis-Besse news

Jan, 2004


Jan 31: Marion loses ethanol plant to Coshocton;
Utility rates cited as deciding factor


MARION -- "Nordic Biofuels of Nebraska selected the east-central Ohio city because, by its own calculations, the company will reap a return of 20 percent on its investment compared to 9.5 percent if it built the plant in Marion. Dave Claborn, president of Greater Marion Community Area New Development Organization Inc., said the "key differences" were electric, sewer and water rates, and cost of extending a high-pressure natural gas line 4.8 miles to the Marion site in the Dual Rail Industrial Park. . . Nordic liked the Marion site and the community, but was put off by water rates that are four times higher than those in Coshocton, sewer rates that are 30 percent higher and electric rates that are 25-30 percent higher, he said. 'This isn't the be-all and end-all of economic development in Marion, but again it does come down to the same old story and that story is utility rates,' Claborn said," John Jarvis, Marion Star.

PORT CLINTON -- NRC schedules meetings on Davis-Besse restart, Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

PORT CLINTON -- NRC takes look at Davis-Besse, Akron Beacon Journal.

CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspection team heads to Davis-Besse as part of review, Port Clinton News Herald.

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission orders talks on safety at three reactors in New Jersey, Matthew Wald, New York Times. "The commission sent a letter on Wednesday to the Public Service Enterprise Group, which operates Salem 1 and 2 and Hope Creek, which are adjacent, in Lower Alloways Creek Township, giving the company 30 days to come up with a plan to assess and correct the problem. . . The letter said that 'we have not identified any serious safety violations,' but it added that commission interviews raised questions about the plants' 'work environment.' Some of the information from the employees calls into question 'the openness of management to concerns and alternative views,' the letter said. Disagreements between workers licensed by the federal government to run the reactors and the corporation's senior managers, particularly on problems that might force a plant to shut down, may have discouraged plant personnel from raising concerns, the letter said."
Jan 29: FirstEnergy wants $2 billion in fees

COLUMBUS -- ". . . FirstEnergy stands to collect $8.7 billion in transition charges, as the PUCO approved in 2000, plus another $3.7 billion in interest on the old debt, for a total of $12.4 billion by the end of 2005. Of that $8.7 billion, about $3.2 billion is for the old construction that the company believes it will have collected by the end of 2005. Continuing that collection at the same rate for another three years as a rate stabilization charge would yield an estimated $2 billion. FirstEnergy and the [Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel] released the document Wednesday, just a day after refusing to do so, saying they were not yet public record but instead part of the litigation process leading up to the February hearings. Deputy Consumers' Counsel Eric Stephens on Tuesday said that FirstEnergy had given his attorneys the figures under the condition that they not be made public," John Funk, Julie Carr Smyth, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Jan 28: Taft silent on Ohio's biggest economic issue:
FirstEnergy rates could cost 18,000 Northern Ohio jobs


COLUMBUS -- "During today's State of the State, Governor Bob Taft was strangely silent about FirstEnergy's $3 billion rate case," said Catherine Turcer, legislative director for Ohio Citizen Action. Turcer said FirstEnergy's proposed rates would pull at least $1 billion out of the Northern Ohio economy each year in 2006, 2007, and 2008. "That missing money translates to 18,000 missing jobs for Northern Ohioans," Turcer said. "It dwarfs everything Taft has done and wants to do on jobs. Sometimes what is important is what is left unsaid. Governor Taft could have said that this case deserves the normal nine-month review and serious scrutiny. Instead, his silence invites speculation about FirstEnergy's influence over him. Last year alone, the Akron utility gave $200,000 to Taft's issue PAC."

Speaker Sound clips: Ohio Citizen Action reaction to Taft speech
Jan 27: 40 throw hat in ring for utility-watchdog post;
The deadline to apply for the job, which pays up to $137,654 annually, was yesterday

COLUMBUS -- "Past and present state lawmakers, a state investigator and officials from the attorney general’s and state auditor’s offices are among more than 40 people vying to become Ohio’s utility consumer watchdog. An FBI official from Cleveland, a security hall monitor from Toledo and a minister from Akron also applied for the position of Ohio consumers’ counsel, a job that pays up to $137,654 annually for running a state agency with about 75 employees and a $9 million annual budget. Eric B. Stephens, the acting consumers’ counsel, initially indicated he did not want the job when his boss, Robert S. Tongren, resigned on Nov. 5. However, yesterday Stephens threw his resume on the stack. Agency spokesman Ryan Lippe said applications will be accepted if they were postmarked before yesterday’s midnight deadline. Members of the agency’s governing board will narrow the field before conducting interviews and picking a new consumers’ counsel March 8, Lippe said. The agency has had just two previous directors in 27 years," Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch. Access fee; no link.

COLUMBUS -- 43 people apply for Ohio Consumers' Counsel job, Akron Beacon Journal.
Jan 26: 121 Northern Ohio cities, townships weigh in on FirstEnergy's $3 billion rate demand

COLUMBUS -- On Friday, 121 Northern Ohio cities and townships -- representing 600,000 electric customers -- filed a motion with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio 'to require FirstEnergy to show cause why they are not in violation of the hearing examiners' orders and Commission entry compelling discovery.' The communities charge FirstEnergy with violating state orders to reveal the amount of 'transition' charges the utility has already collected from ratepayers," Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition, Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council; filed Jan 23, 2004 (pdf file).

CANTON -- In defense of Peter Burg's record, George M. Smart, Chairman, FirstEnergy, letter to the editor, Business Week, issue dated Feb 2, 2004. "FirstEnergy's board members are not 'asleep at the switch,' but rather had total confidence in Pete's leadership and are very confident of First Energy's future success."
Jan 24: First Energy chief pushes Team NEO

CLEVELAND -- "Although FirstEnergy's industrial rates are among the lower in the nation, its commercial rates are among the higher rates in the country, and critics have charged that they deter growth. But [FirstEnergy CEO Anthony] Alexander said they have been stable and will remain stable through 2008 if state regulators approve a proposal FirstEnergy made to state regulators in October. Competitors are opposing the deal, asking the state to open Ohio's retail electricity markets, that is, deregulate them as planned, by 2006," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Jan 23: Comparison of PUCO rate case schedules:
A normal rate case and FirstEnergy's $3 billion rate case


CLEVELAND -- "The chart compares the amount of request, actions by the utility, actions by the Public Utility Commission, actions by the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, public involvement and when the rate hike would go into effect," Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, and Shari Weir, Cleveland Program director, Ohio Citizen Action.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The NRC is not prepared to shut down Davis-Besse if it is operating and a safety problem develops," David Lochbaum, Nuclear Safety Engineer, Union of Concerned Scientists, message to John Grobe, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ". . .the NRC's safety standards change once a reactor restarts. Now, the burden is upon [the FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC)] to prove to NRC that Davis-Besse can be safely operated. Once the reactor is operating, the burden shifts to the NRC proving to FENOC that Davis-Besse is being unsafely operated. If the NRC cannot, or will not, make that case (i.e., November 28, 2001), the reactor continues operating. This double standard does a tremendous dis-service to the American public. An operating reactor poses a greater hazard than a shut down reactor, yet the NRC applies a lower standard. . . . I don't know if Davis-Besse is safe enough to restart. But I do know that the NRC is not prepared to shut down Davis-Besse if it is operating and a safety problem develops. The fact that NRC will not enforce safety regulations is the biggest safety culture problem of a nuclear variety. It makes the safety culture problems at Davis-Besse pale by comparison."
Jan 23: "The NRC is not prepared to shut down Davis-Besse if it is operating and a safety problem develops"

WASHINGTON, DC -- ". . .the NRC's safety standards change once a reactor restarts. Now, the burden is upon [the FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC)] to prove to NRC that Davis-Besse can be safely operated. Once the reactor is operating, the burden shifts to the NRC proving to FENOC that Davis-Besse is being unsafely operated. If the NRC cannot, or will not, make that case (i.e., November 28, 2001), the reactor continues operating. This double standard does a tremendous dis-service to the American public. An operating reactor poses a greater hazard than a shut down reactor, yet the NRC applies a lower standard. . . . I don't know if Davis-Besse is safe enough to restart. But I do know that the NRC is not prepared to shut down Davis-Besse if it is operating and a safety problem develops. The fact that NRC will not enforce safety regulations is the biggest safety culture problem of a nuclear variety. It makes the safety culture problems at Davis-Besse pale by comparison," David Lochbaum, Nuclear Safety Engineer, Union of Concerned Scientists, message to John Grobe, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Jan 22: Utility admits failings in staff accountability

OAK HARBOR -- "New Plant Manager Barry Allen told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission here last night that Davis-Besse operators did not meet his expectations during the facility's recent heat-up in a nonnuclear mode, and 'leadership was ineffective in holding people accountable for deficiencies cited.' . . .nobody from the company ventured a guess as to when the beleaguered plant would be restarted," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

OAK HARBOR -- Another test run at Davis-Besse, John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

TRENTON, NJ -- Jersey Central Power & Light deals with fallout, Tom Johnson, Newark Star-Ledger. "Because JCP&L's parent [FirstEnergy] had its credit rating reduced by Standard & Poor's, the power-generation companies that will be selling electricity at the auction have asked regulators to force JCP&L to pay for the power it buys on a weekly, rather than monthly, basis. The credit agency lowered its rating to below investment grade -- just above junk statuts -- because of operational problems at the Akron, Ohio-based energy company, including delays in starting up a nuclear plant."

AKRON -- FirstEnergy chief's death demands closer look at life; Some legacies defined by intangible services, Diane Evans, column, Akron Beacon Journal.
Jan 21: Sandy Buchanan invites new FirstEnergy chief to meet on Davis-Besse, rate case

Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Sandy Buchanan
CLEVELAND -- "I am writing to congratulate you on your appointment as FirstEnergy's Chief Executive Officer, and to invite you to meet with me about the Davis-Besse nuclear plant and FirstEnergy's current Ohio rate-extension case. We have much in common, starting with the roughly half of Ohio Citizen Action's 100,000 members who are FirstEnergy customers. I am sure we both have an interest in seeing that Davis-Besse operates safely for both plant workers and neighbors. You are taking office at a turning point for FirstEnergy, and I know we can have a constructive discussion about the alternatives you face," Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action, (216) 861-5200, letter to Anthony Alexander, Chief Executive Officer, FirstEnergy Corp.
Jan 21: U.S. NRC to get 779 more citizen letters on Davis-Besse tonight; total reaches 12,838

OAK HARBOR -- At tonight's U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting in Oak Harbor, Ohio Citizen Action will give the federal regulators 779 more citizen letters from all over northern Ohio, bringing to the total to 12,838. The letters press the U.S. NRC to stop FirstEnergy from restarting Davis-Besse. Another 27,834 neighbors have sent similar handwritten letters, member names on sign-on letters, and postcards directly to FirstEnergy. Tonight's meeting will be in the Oak Harbor High School Auditorium from 6:00 to 10:00 PM, Shari Weir, Cleveland Area Program Director, Ohio Citizen Action, (216) 861-5200.

AKRON -- Protege of Burg is chosen by utility; FirstEnergy taps Anthony Alexander to succeed friend as CEO, president, Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

AKRON -- Anthony J. Alexander, Akron Beacon Journal.

AKRON -- FirstEnergy board picks successor to late chief, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer. "An executive with one of those firms, Beachwood-based Christian and Timbers, said Tuesday night that the board's quick appointment of Alexander is a 'lost opportunity.' 'I would say by bringing in Tony Alexander the board has shown a lack of commitment to change,' said Adam Kohn, managing partner of the firm's Cleveland office. Kohn has executive-search experience in the utility and energy fields. 'The board has really failed its shareholders and the industry by not recruiting the external leadership that the company needs right now,' he said. 'They have lost a tremendous opportunity to make a statement.' Analyst Hugh Wynne with Sandford C. Bernstein in New York said that from a regulatory standpoint, naming Alexander chief executive makes sense because of the importance of the company's gaining state approval of its rate extension."
Jan 20: FirstEnergy fails to restore any public confidence

PORT CLINTON -- "We said last month that we weren't convinced that FirstEnergy should be allowed to continue to operate the plant, and nothing the company has done in the past few weeks has instilled us with renewed confidence. . . .Now, FirstEnergy wants to convince the NRC that it has done in a handful of weeks what it couldn't accomplish in about 22 months. We're not buying it. To restate our position, we think Davis-Besse can and should return to operation. We think the workers at Davis-Besse are capable and would respond to management practices that should have been in place all along. We do not, however, have confidence in FirstEnergy to operate a nuclear power plant," editorial, Port Clinton News Herald.

COLUMBUS -- "This is the biggest economic issue facing Ohio," Shari Weir, Ohio Citizen Action, letter to northern Ohio state legislators.

AKRON -- Anthony J. Alexander elected Chief Executive Officer of FirstEnergy; George M. Smart elected Chairman of the Board, release, Ralph DiNicola, FirstEnergy.

AKRON -- Alexander elected CEO of FirstEnergy, Associated Press.

SAN FRANCISCO -- FirstEnergy elects CEO and chairman of the board, Reuters.

AKRON -- Utility chief's funeral honors wonderful life; Akron church crowded with family and friends of FirstEnergy executive, Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.
Jan 18:  Former CEO Burg's death adds bad news to bad year for floundering FirstEnergy

AKRON -- "Some financial analysts say Burg's unexpected departure may also have left FirstEnergy more vulnerable to another outcome -- merger with a larger utility. . . The two most often mentioned utilities last week that may have an interest in acquiring First Energy are Chicago-based Exelon Corp. and Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Resources. . . Spokesman for both companies last week declined to comment, quoting company policy and SEC regulations concerning mergers and acquisitions. But the speculation that FirstEnergy is a target, if not rampant, is now common among Wall Street types. 'Over the last two years, certainly management has not maximized the value of the company,' said Hugh Wynne, an analyst with Sandford C. Bernstein in New York. '[Merger] would be a way to enhance the value. I would think whether or not the board sits down to figure out how to maximize the value of the stock or just to decide what sort of guy they need to replace Burg, they will end up focusing on the problems of the last two years.' Wynne said. 'It would be difficult to avoid talking about [a merger],'" John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Jan 17: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigating overtime at Davis-Besse

OAK HARBOR -- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Friday that its inspectors are probing whether employees at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo are working excessive overtime. FirstEnergy Corp. executives said last month that the workforce was 'tired and frustrated' but that schedules were being reduced as the reactor got closer to restart. The NRC has been reviewing the plant's 'safety culture' and will discuss its latest findings at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Oak Harbor High School," Cleveland Plain Dealer.

  • This investigation comes thirteen months after Ohio Citizen Action filed with the NRC an 'Allegation that Davis-Besse employees are required to work unrealistic work schedules, leaving them unfit-for-duty,' (Dec 13, 2002), and eight months after the NRC dismissed the allegation without having conducted an investigation (May 16, 2003).
OAK HARBOR -- Davis-Besse plant suffers new setback. "FirstEnergy Corp. said its Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in Oak Harbor, idled for almost two years by reactor damage, won't reopen before February because of a pump leak at a steam generator. The Akron utility put off a Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspection that would've begun Monday as workers replaced seals on two backup pumps," Akron Beacon Journal.

  • Do you think FirstEnergy can get Davis-Besse running again before Feb 16, the second anniversary of its shutdown? You might want to review the history before you answer.
HARRISBURG, PA -- Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission to to investigate FirstEnergy; The look into the utility’s reliability performance should be done by the end of September, Sean Adkins, York Daily Record. "'We were a bit surprised by the (commission's) investigation announcement,' [Scott Surgeoner, spokesman for First-Energy] said. 'We intend to fully cooperate with the PUC and its investigation. It's an opportunity for us and the PUC to learn more about each other.'"

HARRISBURG, PA -- Regulators order FirstEnergy probe, Associated Press.
Jan 16: Management shakeup at Davis-Besse;
New manager of operations named


CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- "The reorganization of the operations department, company spokesman Richard Wilkins said, was in response to some 'incidents' that have recently occurred in the department where workers did not properly execute certain administration controls. 'They weren't necessarily significant, but they were enough for us to take a closer look at,' he said. . . Wilkins did not elaborate on the incidents within the department," Jack Buehrer, Port Clinton News Herald.

OAK HARBOR -- Managers changed at Davis-Besse, Toledo Blade.
Jan 15: Ohio Citizen Action wants three top state officials to speak out
Public Utilities Commission railroading FirstEnergy's $3 billion rate case; routine scrutiny abandoned

COLUMBUS -- "On behalf of the 100,000 dues-paying members of Ohio Citizen Action, I am writing to urge you to immediately and publicly call for the Public Utilities Commission to halt the breakneck schedule on FirstEnergy's pending rate stabilization case (03-2144-EL-ATA) and to conduct the normal full nine-month review used in other rate cases. . . FirstEnergy’s pending case is at least thirty times bigger than the last rate increase sought by Toledo Edison and Cleveland Electric Illuminating. Yet, the commission -– under pressure from FirstEnergy -- has scrapped the regular review process. Additionally, all work in the case is now scheduled to be completed before a new Consumers' Counsel is appointed, meaning that residential ratepayers will not have our state-appointed advocate in place as the second largest rate case in state history is argued. Only the FirstEnergy stranded cost case had a bigger price tag," Shari Weir, Cleveland Program Director, Ohio Citizen Action, letters to Attorney General Jim Petro, State Auditor Betty Montgomery, and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

COLUMBUS -- Consumers' counsel job drawing few applicants, Julie Carr Smyth, Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Ohio Consumers' Counsel Governing Board Chairman Jerome Solove said during Wednesday's board meeting that he has been disappointed in the response to a want ad seeking Tongren's replacement. . . .'If we don't get a good, full-bodied response that gives the impression that we have diversity of qualified applicants to choose from, I'm going to be raising the question of whether we're going about this in the right way,' Solove said."

NEW YORK, NY -- FirstEnergy names new managers for Davis-Besse plant, Reuters.

OAK HARBOR -- NRC oversight panel meets Jan. 21, Port Clinton News Herald.

AKRON -- H. Peter Burg; `An Akron guy' who set a sterling example of corporate leadership in a community, editorial, Akron Beacon Journal.

CLEVELAND -- H. Peter Burg, editorial, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Jan 14: FirstEnergy can take time filling CEO post
Experts say careful consideration needed, interim chief can hold down fort

AKRON -- "FirstEnergy Corp.'s board of directors could take months to name a new chief executive to succeed H. Peter Burg at the struggling Akron utility, some analysts and management experts said. That's because the company -- under the national spotlight for its role in last summer's massive blackout and problems at its Davis-Besse nuclear plant -- needs to think hard about who can lead it forward, they said. 'I think the board will want to consider all its options,' said Paul Fremont, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. in New York. 'There's no need for a rush. I'd be surprised if there were an announcement out immediately,'" John Russell, Akron Beacon Journal.

AKRON -- Akron native dies after brief battle with leukemia; FirstEnergy chief set bar for leadership, Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

AKRON -- FirstEnergy chairman dies weeks after cancer diagnosis, John Funk, Jennifer Scott Cimperman, Steve Luttner, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

AKRON -- FirstEnergy’s chief exec dies; Burg took medical leave 2 weeks ago, Jon Chavez, Toledo Blade.

AKRON -- Candidate to be CEO rose ranks with Burg; Tony Alexander, an Akron native, has spent his career as a FirstEnergy employee, Gloria Irwin, Akron Beacon Journal. "'Financially, the company has performed,' analyst Robert Rubin at New York-based Deutsche Bank told the Akron Beacon Journal in November. 'Operationally, it's a disaster. That points to Tony Alexander.'"

AKRON -- FirstEnergy coping with sudden leadership change, Associated Press.

AKRON -- State of the City address; Mayor offers humble side; Plusquellic commends city employees, notes changes in Akron during his 18 years in office, Julie Wallace, Akron Beacon Journal.

AKRON -- Loss of Burg is loss for Akron, for everyone, Diane Evans, column, Akron Beacon Journal.
Jan 13: H. Peter Burg, FirstEnergy chairman and CEO, dies at 57

AKRON -- "FirstEnergy Corp. chairman and chief executive H. Peter Burg, who saw the utility through the merger that created it and its toughest times including the nation's largest blackout, died Tuesday, the company utility confirmed. He was 57. Burg, who had held the dual role since January 2002, announced he was temporarily stepping down in December to be treated for leukemia. President and chief operating operator Anthony J. Alexander had taken over his duties, but Burg had planned to return to work after treatment, the company said. Under Burg's leadership, FirstEnergy doubled in size to become the nation's fifth largest electric utility system," Associated Press.
  • FirstEnergy statement
AKRON -- FirstEnergy CEO H. Peter Burg dead at 57, Akron Beacon Journal.

AKRON -- A timeline of events at FirstEnergy under the direction of H. Peter Burg, Akron Beacon Journal.

COLUMBUS -- Davis-Besse wants January re-inspection; FirstEnergy-NRC officials to meet January 21, Jim Siegel, Port Clinton News Herald. "Davis-Besse is taking up more NRC time and resources than any of the 103 nuclear power plants in the United States, [Roland Lickus, chief of government affairs for NRC Region III] said."

NEW YORK -- Events for Standard and Poor's 500 companies, Reuters. FirstEnergy Corp. 4th quarter earnings, tentatively set for February 12.
Jan 12: Is the Public Utilities Commission just a big ATM for FirstEnergy?

CLEVELAND -- "FirstEnergy lobbyists are down in Columbus now, demanding that the Ohio Public Utilities Commission approve -- in advance, with no questions asked -- over $3 billion in overcharges to their customers through 2008. In 1995 when the company filed for a $119 million rate increase, the Commission gave it their usual full rate review -- taking more than nine months -- including time to investigate it, ask questions, collect evidence, hold public hearings, analyze the information, produce a staff report, and decide. This case is at least 30 times bigger, yet last fall, the Commission suddenly scrapped their process and plans to decide it within weeks, instead of the usual nine months," Shari Weir, Ohio Citizen Action.

  • The three state officials who will be running for Governor when the new rates go into effect -- Attorney General Jim Petro, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and State Auditor Betty Montgomery -- should be opposing PUCO's breakneck schedule. Please email them right now.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- FirstEnergy, NRC not ready for plant restart talks, Reuters. "A FirstEnergy spokesman confirmed that a critical 'restart readiness inspection' that was to begin on Monday has been postponed, adding "it could come in as early as several weeks from now," which could push restart into February."

I wonder if we can count on a restart in February.
Jan 10: Davis-Besse prepares to fix leaky backup pump

OAK HARBOR -- "FirstEnergy Corp. yesterday backed Davis-Besse down from the optimum temperature and pressure levels it had been holding the plant’s reactor at in preparation for restart. The company did that so it can repair a steam leak it found in a backup pump a few days ago. The length of time to do the work was not immediately known, but it was presumed the task would take at least three or four days, Richard Wilkins, a spokesman for the utility, said," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

AKRON -- FirstEnergy's Burg undergoes treatments; CEO's responding well to care for leukemia, utility spokesman says, Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.
MORE ON FIRSTENERGY
Jan 8: PUCO denies FirstEnergy appeal

COLUMBUS -- "The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio upheld a ruling by one of its hearing officers that FirstEnergy Corp. must reveal how much it has collected from rate payers in the last three years in so-called 'transition charges' to pay for past, mostly nuclear, construction. The PUCO denied FirstEnergy's appeal. In 2000, the agency authorized the company to collect the fees for five years as the state moves into a deregulated electric market. When FirstEnergy proposed extending that period through 2008, opponents challenged the company to reveal how much it had already collected. The company said it has not decided whether to appeal the order further," Cleveland Plain Dealer.

  • "The Commission believes the parties should fully investigate and prepare for the proceeding and present the Commission with a record that provides the evidence, data and financial information that support either the statutory bidout process or a rate stabilization plan," Entry, Case No. 03-2144-EL-ATA, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (pdf).

    If so, why is the Commission following a breakneck schedule to get this case done? FirstEnergy filed their demand on October 21, 2003, and the Commission was racing to decide it by December 31. Then the Commission delayed it, but only by eight weeks. A normal rate case take nine months: Why the haste for this one, which is at least 30 times bigger than a normal case?

OAK HARBOR -- Davis-Besse restart delayed after gaffe. "Technicians testing a pressure gauge in an emergency safety system failed to tell the reactor's operators in the control room -- as required -- that the safety system would be offline for more than an hour and that they should shift to a second, redundant system. The gaffe meant that the emergency system was offline for two hours -- without operators shifting to the backup -- while the technicians grappled with another matter," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- Key inspection at Davis-Besse is put on hold, Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

OAK HARBOR -- FirstEnergy Corp. asks NRC to delay nuclear plant inspection. "The decision to delay the inspection comes 10 days after Lew Myers, chief operating officer for FirstEnergy's nuclear operating division, was quoted in an internal plant report as saying that he had 'lost confidence in the organization's ability to operate plant equipment.' . . . [First Energy spokesman Todd] Schneider said that the decision to resume heating up the reactor shows Myers has regained his confidence in the organization since his Dec. 28 report," Associated Press.
Jan 6: Davis-Besse oversight meeting delayed

LISLE, IL -- "Category 1 meeting: Discuss licensee [FirstEnergy] performance and progress on the Return to Service Plan as part of the IMC 0350 [special Davis-Besse oversight] Process. This meeting has been tentatively rescheduled to January 21. Meeting details will be announced at a later date," Jan Strasma, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region III.

Under Commission rules, at a "Category 1" meeting, "The public would be invited to observe the meeting consistent with current open meeting policy, and the NRC staff would be available to answer questions from the public after the business portion of the meeting."

OAK HARBOR -- Davis-Besse tests pressure. "Plant owner FirstEnergy Corp. plans to decide by Friday whether to ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for permission to restart the reactor and begin generating electricity," Cleveland Plain Dealer. No link; not posted on Plain Dealer website.
Jan 3: Davis-Besse workers slip up during restart preparations

Editorial cartoon

Clayton Strohmeyer, Columbus ThisWeek, August 16, 2003.

OAK HARBOR -- "The performance issue came on New Year's Eve, she said, three days into the heat-up, when a reactor operator noticed that a valve in one of the plant's two emergency cooling systems was out of service for maintenance. No one noticed it earlier, said company spokesman Todd Schneider, because the work had not been logged into control room records, where operators would have seen it before beginning the heat-up on Sunday. Even after spotting the problem, operators did not follow federal procedures, Mitlyng said. The rules require an immediate report - which starts a 72-hour clock to fix it or shut down. 'It took them six hours' to decide what to do, she said," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- NRC postpones meeting on Davis-Besse, Toledo Blade.

AKRON -- FirstEnergy CEO takes more heat. "Ailing FirstEnergy Corp. Chairman and CEO Peter Burg may want to forget that 2003 ever happened. Burg, now fighting leukemia diagnosed in December, was named one of the six worst business managers of the year by BusinessWeek. The magazine cited Burg for presiding over the Davis-Besse nuclear plant woes, environmental violations at coal-fired plants, and then the nation's worst blackout on Aug. 14," Akron Beacon Journal.

NEW YORK -- The worst managers of 2003: Peter Burg, FirstEnergy. "Not only did FirstEnergy bumble its way to a history-making outage on his watch, but Burg has seemingly written the book on how not to respond in a crisis. Which raises the question: Are First Energy's board members the ones asleep at the switch?" Business Week.
Jan 1: NRC restructuring in wake of Davis-Besse errors

OAK HARBOR -- "'If two resident inspectors were unaware of or unable to detect the problem, how does increasing the number of resident inspectors increase the protection of public health?' said Shari Weir, program director for Ohio Citizen Action. The environmental group has been critical of the plant's operators, but Weir said the NRC needs to face the same scrutiny that FirstEnergy has met at monthly public meetings. 'We hear at meeting after meeting about the changes FirstEnergy is making, but we hear nothing about how the NRC would track problems if they emerge,' Weir said," John Seewer, Associated Press.