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Posted on Tue, May. 21, 2002 story:PUB_DESC
Akron utility to stress positive
FirstEnergy will present some good news today at shareholders forum

Beacon Journal business writer

The damage found at FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse nuclear power plant has dominated news stories about the Akron utility since March.

But when FirstEnergy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer H. Peter Burg addresses shareholders today it appears he'll largely have a good-news story to tell.

At last year's annual shareholders meeting, FirstEnergy's stock price closed at $29.65. Yesterday's closing price was $33.07. Since last year's meeting, the stock with dividends reinvested has returned 16.02 percent. By comparison, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the S&P Electric Utilities Index have since dropped significantly.

At this morning's annual meeting in the John S. Knight Center, Burg can point to FirstEnergy's higher stock price, the completion of its acquisition of New Jersey-based GPU Inc., which doubled the company's customer base to 4.3 million people, and its ongoing efforts to shed billions of dollars of debt.

While the stock price is up compared to a year ago, it's 14.4 percent off the high this year of $38.65 set on March 11, the day the company announced it found that boric acid ate two cavities into the Davis-Besse reactor vessel head.

The plant, in Oak Harbor about 25 miles east of Toledo, has been shut down since mid-February and probably will remain shut down through at least the end of September.

The plant and the company are being investigated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Congress, and FirstEnergy has estimated it may spend $120 million or more to repair or replace the damaged part, plus buy electricity to make up for not being able to use Davis-Besse.

The company has asked shareholders to elect five directors and amend an executive compensation plan.

Two shareholder-initiated proposals that would eliminate staggered terms for directors and adopt simple majority votes are also on the proxy statement. Both proposals have failed to pass in previous attempts.


Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com
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