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AKRON, Ohio, — Through its customer-focused growth initiatives and commitment to corporate responsibility, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) is focused on creating a brighter future for its shareholders, customers, communities and employees, said Charles E. Jones, FirstEnergy president and chief executive officer. Jones addressed shareholders gathered for FirstEnergy’s annual meeting.
“I’ve been with FirstEnergy for more than forty years, and I’m certain 2018 was one of the most pivotal and productive in our company’s history,” Jones said.
Jones cited FirstEnergy’s transition to a fully regulated utility, stronger balance sheet, streamlined support organization and continued investments in customer-focused growth initiatives as key achievements in 2018. He also noted that the Board of Directors approved a new dividend policy late last year and initial dividend increase for the first quarter of 2019 that reflects its confidence in FirstEnergy’s long-term, sustainable growth plans.
“This new policy supports an expected increase in shareholder returns as we continue to invest in our strategic initiatives. It’s worth noting that our stock ended the year with a total shareholder return of nearly 28 percent, making FirstEnergy the best performer in the Edison Electric Institute Index,” Jones said.
Jones noted that the annual meeting theme, “Energy for a Brighter Future,” captures the spirit and momentum behind the company’s efforts to build a smarter, stronger, more secure electric grid for customers, as well as FirstEnergy’s efforts to inform and engage stakeholders on topics ranging from the company’s environmental footprint to diversity and inclusion, corporate governance and community support.
“Energy for a Brighter Future is also about meeting our commitment to environmental, social and governance initiatives that support our mission to make customers’ lives brighter, the environment better and our communities stronger,” he said.
A transcript of Jones’ prepared remarks can be found here.
Preliminary Voting Results
FirstEnergy also announced preliminary voting results from its 2019 Annual Meeting. Shareholders reelected each of the 11 nominees to the company’s Board of Directors and ratified the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as the company’s independent registered public accounting firm. On an advisory basis, shareholders also approved named executive officer compensation.
Based on preliminary results, the management proposals to amend the company’s governing documents to replace existing supermajority voting requirements with a majority voting power threshold, implement majority voting for uncontested director elections and implement proxy access each received the requisite vote. A non-binding shareholder proposal also relating to simple majority vote received a majority of votes cast; this proposal will be implemented through the passage of the management proposal related to majority voting power threshold.
All preliminary voting results are subject to final certification.
The following directors were elected to one-year terms:
FirstEnergy is dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company’s transmission subsidiaries operate more than 24,500 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorpor online at www.firstenergycorp.com.
Forward-Looking Statements: This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 based on information currently available to management. Unless the context requires otherwise, as used herein, references to “we,” “us,” “our,” and “FirstEnergy” refer to FirstEnergy Corp. Forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties and readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. These statements include declarations regarding management’s intents, beliefs and current expectations. These statements typically contain, but are not limited to, the terms “anticipate,” “potential,” “expect,” “forecast,” “target,” “will,” “intend,” “believe,” “project,” “estimate,” “plan” and similar words. Forward-looking statements involve estimates, assumptions, known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, which may include the following: the ability to successfully execute an exit from commodity-based generation, including, without limitation, mitigating exposure for remedial activities associated with formerly owned generation assets; the risks associated with the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings involving FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. (FES), its subsidiaries, and FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) (FES Bankruptcy) that could adversely affect us, our liquidity or results of operations, including, without limitation, that conditions to the FES Bankruptcy settlement agreement may not be met or that the FES Bankruptcy settlement agreement may not be otherwise consummated, and if so, the potential for litigation and payment demands against us by FES or FENOC or their creditors; the ability to accomplish or realize anticipated benefits from strategic and financial goals, including, but not limited to, our strategy to operate and grow as a fully regulated business, to execute our transmission and distribution investment plans, to continue to reduce costs through FE Tomorrow, which is the FirstEnergy initiative launched in late 2016 to identify our optimal organization structure and properly align corporate costs and systems to efficiently support FirstEnergy as a fully regulated company going forward, and other initiatives, and to improve our credit metrics, strengthen our balance sheet and grow earnings; legislative and regulatory developments at the federal and state levels, including, but not limited to, matters related to rates, compliance and enforcement activity; economic and weather conditions affecting future operating results, such as significant weather events and other natural disasters, and associated regulatory events or actions; changes in assumptions regarding economic conditions within our territories, the reliability of our transmission and distribution system, or the availability of capital or other resources supporting identified transmission and distribution investment opportunities; changes in customers’ demand for power, including, but not limited to, the impact of state and federal energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; changes in national and regional economic conditions affecting us and/or our major industrial and commercial customers or others with which we do business; the risks associated with cyber-attacks and other disruptions to our information technology system that may compromise our operations, and data security breaches of sensitive data, intellectual property and proprietary or personally identifiable information; the ability to comply with applicable state and federal reliability standards and energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; changes to federal and state environmental laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, those related to climate change; changing market conditions affecting the measurement of certain liabilities and the value of assets held in our pension trusts and other trust funds, or causing us to make additional contributions sooner, or in amounts that are larger, than currently anticipated; the risks associated with the decommissioning of our retired and former nuclear facilities; the risks and uncertainties associated with litigation, arbitration, mediation and like proceedings; labor disruptions by our unionized workforce; changes to significant accounting policies; any changes in tax laws or regulations, including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or adverse tax audit results or rulings; the ability to access the public securities and other capital and credit markets in accordance with our financial plans, the cost of such capital and overall condition of the capital and credit markets affecting us; actions that may be taken by credit rating agencies that could negatively affect either our access to or terms of financing or our financial condition and liquidity; and the risks and other factors discussed from time to time in FirstEnergy’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. Dividends declared from time to time on FirstEnergy’s common stock, and thereby on FirstEnergy’s preferred stock, during any period may in the aggregate vary from prior periods due to circumstances considered by FirstEnergy’s Board of Directors at the time of the actual declarations. A security rating is not a recommendation to buy or hold securities and is subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the assigning rating agency. Each rating should be evaluated independently of any other rating. These forward-looking statements are also qualified by, and should be read together with, the risk factors included in FirstEnergy’s filings with the SEC, including but not limited to the most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, and any subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. The foregoing review of factors also should not be construed as exhaustive. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all such factors, nor assess the impact of any such factor on FirstEnergy’s business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. FirstEnergy expressly disclaims any obligation to update or revise, except as required by law, any forward-looking statements contained herein as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.