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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Religious Leaders Want Answers, Reform, from FirstEnergy

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 2:12 PM

A group of regional religious leaders want to sit down with FirstEnergy leadership to discuss reform.

In a letter to new FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones and the company's board of directors, 38 undersigned pastors (in partnership with the Ohio Organizing 
Collaborative, Communities United for Responsible Energy, and Common Good Ohio), expressed concern at the way the utilities behemoth has been conducting business. 

“It’s time that we as citizens demand corporate America be accountable to us,” Bishop Eugene Ward, of Cleveland, said in press release. “We can’t afford the higher rates nor the damage that FirstEnergy is wreaking on our environment.”

On the environment, yes, but also on churches. In Cleveland, where many houses of worship are old and inefficient, energy bills are often a burdensome expense. The clergy said they were dismayed that while their rates have increased, an audit program that helped them identify cost-cutting measures is no longer available to them. 

"The ministry of hospitality is central to the ministry to the poor, and that begins with buildings that are warm and light," said Father David Bargetzi of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Cleveland, in a press release. “If we cannot afford to pay our own bills, we can do nothing."

The letter to also chastised FirstEnergy for asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to pass an Electric Security Plan (ESP) that would subsidize FirstEnergy’s Sammis coal-burning power plant and the Davis Besse nuclear power plant.

"This subsidy would rob the poorest among us for the profit of a massive corporation and hurt families by forcing them to underwrite the costs of outmoded facilities whose harmful byproducts make them sick," the letter said. 

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