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Citizens Urge Ohio Power Company to Move Toward Clean Energy

May 17, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - An energy giant in the Buckeye State will be hearing from a group of concerned citizens today. Like other electrical generation companies in the state, First Energy is under a mandate to improve efficiency, and shareholders today will vote on several resolutions, including one that specially asks the company to examine future investments in coal. Members of communities affected by coal-fired power plants will gather outside to ask First Energy to transition beyond coal to a clean-energy future.

The chairman of the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter, Bob Shields, says there's a lot at stake.

"It's about people, it's cost, and it's health, and, long-term, coal can't last forever. It's not the best way to go and we're going to encourage them to move into renewable energy."

Shields says other utilities in Ohio have already reported substantial over-compliance with the efficiency standard that passed in Senate Bill 221 about three years ago. He and others are encouraging First Energy to increase the use of solar, wind and geothermal as they move toward energy efficiency.

Sandy Bihn, who lives near First Energy's Bay Shore power plant in Northwest Ohio, says coal ash emitted from the plant has left a footprint in the community.

"They have had through the years a street cleaner that goes down and takes the dirt off the streets 'cause people driving by complain because their cars get so filthy. Well, obviously, if the cars are getting so dirty from the roads it's going into the air and the homes that are in the area."

Bihn and other citizens from communities affected by coal-related pollution will share their stories during today's event. It begins at 9:30 a.m. outside the John S. Knight Center in Akron.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH