Utility playersWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
There has been a flood of news swirling around local utilities — electric, natural gas and water.
Randall Frame has been named regional president of Toledo Edison for FirstEnergy Corp. Frame will take control after the completion of the proposed merger of FirstEnergy and Allegheny Energy, as early as Feb. 1.
As Toledo Free Press Senior Business Reporter Duane Ramsey reported, Frame will be responsible for approximately 400 Toledo Edison employees in Northwest Ohio but not directly for any power generation employees at the Bayshore or Davis-Besse facilities.
Frame has worked at FirstEnergy for 28 years, joining the company in 1982 as an engineering assistant. In 1990, he was promoted to engineer and in 1994 was named industrial marketing supervisor. In 1997, Frame was promoted to director of sales, and in 2004 was promoted to director, Energy Delivery Supply Chain. He was named as director of Utility & Corporate Sourcing, Supply Chain, in 2009.
Trent A. Smith, regional president of Toledo Edison, will be relocated to The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company. Smith is a good man and strong leader; his presence on many local boards will be missed, and we wish him well.
On Jan. 26, Columbia Gas of Ohio announced a 12 project, 32-mile natural gas infrastructure upgrade in Toledo for 2011. As Special Sections Editor Kristen Criswell reported, the upgrade represents $18 million in investment for Toledo and is part of a 25-year, $200 million investment across Northwest Ohio. By the project’s completion, Columbia Gas will have invested $2 billion throughout the state and replaced roughly 400 miles of natural gas lines in Northwest Ohio.
For this investment, Columbia Gas has hired and contracted 12 employees to install the new lines. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on the project there is a $1.60 economic impact in Northwest Ohio, according to Chris Kozak, communications and community relations manager. Obviously the city will greatly benefit from this work and investment.
On Jan. 25, Toledo City Councilwoman Lindsay Webb, in a technically allowed but faint-hearted maneuver, left Council chambers rather than cast a vote for a proposed rise in water and sewer rates (a proposal she helped craft). Rather than vote against the proposal to kill it, or for it and leave the tiebreaking vote to Mayor Mike Bell, Webb timorously vanished before the vote.
As a result, a very necessary but very unpopular proposal that would have been politically tied to Bell now sits and stews while water infrastructure continues to deteriorate. This was not a thoughtful strategy; this was Webb reacting without considering the consequences. City business is just that — a business — and it needs to be treated as such, not toyed with to make vague and unsupportable political points.
It is a good thing Council is not in charge of the electric and natural gas companies in Northwest Ohio; nothing of import would be accomplished in a timely fashion. Let’s hope Webb and Council get plugged in and find a way to move forward, with expedience and the serious-mindedness this deserves.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.