FirstEnergy lays off 17 at plant


Dan Harkins
The Chronicle-Telegram

LORAIN — Mike Emling is one of 17 workers who lost their jobs Thursday when FirstEnergy Corp. flipped the switch on manual operations at its Edgewater Plant downtown.

RACHEL ORTEGA/CHRONICLE

John Maurice of Elyria fishes near FirstEnergy’s Edgewater Plant in Lorain on Thursday.

Emling, 45, of Avon, said he has worked the last two years of his 25-year tenure with the company in Unit 4, at 7101 W. Erie Ave. He said some workers will opt to retire, some will take severance packages and look elsewhere.

The company offered some workers a chance to relocate to a facility on the Ohio River. Emling said he didn’t know what he would do.

“I worked 23 years at the Avon Lake plant until they sold it,” he said. “I came here, and now they’re closing down. This deregulation really sucks.”

Ralph DiNicola, a FirstEnergy spokesman, said the deregulation of the electricity business in January 2001 hasn’t led to economic trouble for the company, but it may have led officials to trim the fat a little.

“We’ve essentially reviewed all our operations in the last few years,” he said, “making sure we’re structured and organized and operating in a way that makes sense in a competitive environment.”

Built in 1919, the Edgewater Plant is one of the company’s oldest. Three units operate there — two combustion turbines controlled remotely from the West Lorain Plant and Unit 4, a manually operated natural gas boiler. DiNicola said Unit 4 isn’t cost effective.

“The efficiency is not up there with modern natural-gas-fired units we’ve put on in recent years,” he said.

Unit 4 will go, he said, and the two remote turbines will continue to operate at the site.

DiNicola didn’t know how many employees would be retained. He said three have been offered other positions so far.

Mayor Craig Foltin wasn’t happy to hear the news.

“It isn’t going to break the city,” he said, “but it certainly doesn’t help.”

Contact Dan Harkins at 329-7148 or dharkins@chronicletelegram.com.

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