FirstEnergy's first goal is to generate and deliver power, but its second goal is to stay profitable in a market undergoing deregulation. Its ten utilities provide electricity to six million customers in the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic. The company's domestic power plants have a total generating capacity of more than 20,000 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. Beefing up its generation assets, in 2011 the company acquired Allegheny Energy in a $8.5 billion deal.
The 2011 acquisition of Allegheny Energy increased FirstEnergy's power generation capacity by 70% and its customer base by 35%, dramatically boosting its position as a leading regional energy provider focused on both regulated utility operations and a competitive generation business.
FirstEnergy has power regulated generation, transmission, and distribution operations. Through FirstEnergy Solutions it is also engaged in competitive generation and electricity sales. As part of its assets, FirstEnergy has 2,200 MW of renewable energy (primarily generated by wind farms) and 20,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines.
The company operates and serves customers in Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
In 2011 FirstEnergy reported a 22% jump in revenues primarily due to the Allegheny Energy acquisition, which more than compensated for weaker utility revenues caused by government-imposed cost recovery reductions and rate adjustments, and lower generation revenues due to increased competition. Net income was up by 13% in 2011, thanks to the overall jump in revenues and decreased purchased fuel costs outpacing increased costs related to the Allegheny Energy purchase.
To cut debt, that year 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.
In a move to boost its revenues from its nonregulated power segment, in 2012 FirstEnergy Solutions teamed up with NOPEC, a council of governments that negotiates with utilities for power and natural gas, to enable more than 700,000 Northeast Ohio households the ability to lock in the price of electricity for seven years though a fixed contract.
As states push to reduce carbon emissions, FirstEnergy has been expanding its renewable energy operations. 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.
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