Sierra Club Sends Letter to Secretary Perry Urging Him to Reject FirstEnergy Solutions’ Bailout Request


Brian Willis: 202.675.2386,

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Sierra Club sent a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry today urging him to reject FirstEnergy Solutions’ request for him to illegally use emergency powers to force electricity customers to bail out uneconomic coal and nuclear plants in the PJM electricity market. FirstEnergy Solutions made the request early yesterday morning and it was roundly criticized by consumer advocates, grid operators, and market competitors as a brazen act to avoid its impending bankruptcy. FirstEnergy Solutions is trying to use the order to bail out all of their merchant coal and nuclear plants in PJM - three nuclear plants and two coal plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania are facing closure.   

“Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program and our allies are ready to act aggressively on any attempt to force electricity customers to pay billions of dollars to prop up dirty, uneconomic plants, which frankly, should have been retired years ago,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “FirstEnergy Solutions should be focusing on securing its workers’ benefits and helping transition them to new economic opportunities, not creating schemes to undermine the electricity markets and our laws.”   

Congress gave the Department Of Energy emergency powers, outlined in section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act, to address wartime shortages and similar national crises. Sierra Club’s letter argues that the gradual replacement of unneeded coal and nuclear units with cheaper, more flexible, cleaner generation, is no such crisis, and provides no basis for the Department to exercise emergency control over the electric sector. For DOE to issue such an order would be unprecedented, illegal, and subject consumers to staggering costs.

“For years we’ve warned FirstEnergy Solutions that it’s investments in coal and nuclear were short sighted and environmentally destructive. We urged the company to invest in clean energy resources like solar, wind, and energy efficiency, but now it’s come to this. Now the company must admit that it made a terrible mistake, not make this problem worse by making this a national embarrassment,” Hitt said. “FirstEnergy Solutions’ situation should be a lesson to companies across the United States that electricity consumers don’t want electricity from dirty, expensive fossil fuel plants. They want clean, cheap energy that doesn’t make their families and communities sick.”

FirstEnergy Solution’s predicament is the result of years of ignoring America’s shift away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, and its economic difficulties are result of  market forces. The coal plants’ retirements, specifically, would dramatically clean up the air and water in local communities and create new economic opportunities for clean energy development. Sierra Club's position remains clear that FirstEnergy Solutions must also be held responsible for treating workers at the retiring plants with fairness as they seek out new positions.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit