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Published: Wednesday, 8/20/2003

Congressman to ask state to pull FirstEnergy's plug


U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich today will ask a state commission “to revoke FirstEnergy's right to do business in Ohio,” according to a statement issued by the Cleveland Democrat's office.

In a petition that has been prepared for Mr. Kucinich to file with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the congressman will lay out his case for mismanagement related to the nation's worst blackout and cite examples which he believes show the company has put profits ahead of the public interest, the congressman's press secretary, Doug Gordon, told The Blade last night.

The PUCO's office was closed last night. A statement issued Friday by Chairman Alan Schriber said the commission will examine how all investor-owned electric firms in Ohio responded to the outage, not just FirstEnergy.

Ralph DiNicola, FirstEnergy's public relations director, responded to Mr. Kucinich's statement: “We believe that responsible individuals will allow the U.S.-Canadian task force to proceed with the enormous effort of gathering and analyzing information from the entire region to determine the circumstances that led to the event before jumping to conclusions.”

Mr. Kucinich, who is seeking his party's presidential nomination, is among FirstEnergy's most vocal critics. A petition he filed in February seeks to have the nation's fourth largest investor-owned electric system's operating license at its Davis-Besse nuclear plant revoked.

FirstEnergy, Toledo Edison's parent firm, has admitted to the NRC several times in the Davis-Besse saga that it put profits ahead of safety there.

The U.S. Energy Department took control of the overall blackout investigation, halting the separate probe by the North American Electric Reliability Council, the power industry's policing agency, and setting up a joint task force with Canada.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said NERC, independent power system operators, and executives from utility companies will pitch in with the probe. Mr. Abraham and other U.S. representatives will meet this morning in Detroit with counterparts from Canada.

This report includes information from The Blade's wire services.

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