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New Potomac Edison regional headquarters will be in Williamsport Service Center

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett says placing regional headquarters at center will bring in about 40 new employees

February 25, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

A new regional headquarters for Potomac Edison's Maryland operations will be located in the Williamsport Service Center, a result of Allegheny Energy's merger with FirstEnergy that will add  to the approximately 130 employees already there.

"The facility was chosen because it is centrally located, can accommodate the Potomac Edison management organization and is already equipped with the company's information technology infrastructure, a significant cost savings," according to a statement Friday from FirstEnergy, which is headquartered in Akron, Ohio.

 The newly appointed president of Maryland Operations is James V. Fakult, who was formerly with FirstEnergy in the Ohio Edison service area in Akron, FirstEnergy spokeswoman Ellen Raines said.

The number of new employees at the center could not be confirmed Friday, FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Meyers said.

"Basically, it will be Jim's management team," Meyers said, referring to Fakult and the additional personnel being added at the center.

The Williamsport Service Center, 10802 Bower Ave., off Interstate 70 near Halfway, currently employs approximately 130 people, including line, substation and transmission line crews, designers, meter readers and garage mechanics, he said.

The center also has a general storeroom for poles, lines, transformers and other equipment and supplies used in about half of the Alleheny's existing service area, Meyers said.

"I'm very pleased the company recognized that my advice that the best location for locating the headquarters of its Maryland operations was to come back to Washington County," U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett said in a statement.

The decision to place the regional headquarters at the center will bring in about 40 new employees, Bartlett said.

Allegheny Energy's headquarters were on Downsville Pike from 1996 to 2004, a building which earlier served as the general office of Potomac Edison when it was a company with Allegheny Power Systems.

The merger proposal called for regional headquarters in Allegheny's service areas, operating under the names of subsidiaries Potomac Edison, West Penn Power and Mon Power.

"Over time, we will reintroduce the utility operations companies' names," Raines said. "It's our local communities that are our focus."

 Reintroducing or keeping the names of utility operators was something customers were comfortable with, she said.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Thursday cleared the final hurdle to the merger of FirstEnergy and Allegheny Energy, and the companies began joint operations Friday.

It will also be back to the future for electric customers as they will soon open utility bills containing names of companies from bygone years.

"It will be gradual over time," Raines said of the transition.

 Customers can expect to see advertising about the name changes, new decals on trucks and changes in the bills they receive.

 Washington County customers of what had been Allegheny Energy will be making their payments to Potomac Edison, Raines said.

In Franklin County, Pennsylvania, the bills will soon be coming from West Penn Power, a subsidiary of Allegheny.

West Penn will maintain its headquarters in Greensburg, Pa., the statement said.

In West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle, customers will be getting their bills from Potomac Edison or Mon Power, another Allegheny subsidiary.

The West Virginia regional headquarters is in a newly-constructed transmission operations center in Fairmont. Previously, there had been no regional headquarters in that area, Raines said.

The last time customers got bills with return addresses from Potomac Edison and West Penn was 1996, Meyers said.

FirstEnergy announced plans in February 2010 to purchase Allegheny for approximately $4.7 billion in stock. Together, the companies will serve 6 million customers from Ohio to New York, the FirstEnergy statement said.

The companies will have combined assets of $48 billion and annual revenues of about $16 billion.

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