FirstEnergy's first goal is to deliver power, but its second goal is to survive deregulation. Its ten utilities provide electricity to six million customers in Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The company's domestic power plants have a total generating capacity of 24,000 MW, most generated by coal-fired plants. Subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions trades energy commodities in deregulated US markets and has more than 120,000 accounts. FirstEnergy's other nonregulated operations include electrical and mechanical contracting and energy planning and procurement. In 2011 the company acquired Allegheny Energy in a $8.5 billion deal.
The acquisition increased FirstEnergy's power generation capacity by 70% and its customer base by 35%, dramatically boosting its position as a leading regional energy provider. The enlarged company also has 2,200 MW of renewable energy (primarily from wind farms), and 20,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines.
As states push to reduce carbon emissions, FirstEnergy has been expanding its renewable energy operations. In 2009 FirstEnergy began to reengineer units 4 and 5 at its R.E. Burger Plant in Shadyside, Ohio, to generate electricity primarily with biomass, a move that boosted FirstEnergy's portfolio of renewable energy to more than 1,100 MW, including 451 MW of pumped-storage hydro and 376 MW of wind power. In 2010 the company sold a fossil-fueled generation facility in Michigan to Wolverine Power Supply, as it was no longer a strategic fit with the company's new direction. By the end of that year First Energy has almost 500 MW of wind power under long term contracts.
In 2010 the company reported a sharp rise in revenues, led by increased revenue from the acquisition of new commercial and industrial customers as well as from new government aggregation contracts (collective power-purchasing transactions involving townships, cities, and counties) with communities in Ohio. Warmer-than-usual summer weather also bumped up sales of power to residential and small commercial customers.
To cut debt, in 2011 FirstEnergy and partner Boich Companies sold a one-third interest in the Signal Peak coal mine in Montana for $400 million to a unit of commodity trader Gunvor Group.
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