*The photo of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station originally included in this story has been replaced.
CLEVELAND (WJW) — FirstEnergy has announced it’s having some leadership changes, effective immediately.
Steven E. Strah on Thursday retired as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, according to a First Energy release.
FirstEnergy says Strah is receiving no severance payments or severance benefits but is eligible to receive certain retirement benefits, according to a SEC report.
“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Steve for his many contributions and years of service to FirstEnergy and wish him well in his next chapter,” said Lisa Winston Hicks, lead independent director of the FirstEnergy Board. “In our search, we will look to identify a visionary leader to continue driving strong performance across the business, while continuing to foster an environment of uncompromising integrity and shared responsibility to execute on the company’s strategic priorities. As we conduct this search for a permanent CEO, we are fortunate to have a leader of John’s caliber and experience to step into the role on an interim basis to ensure that the company continues building on its strong momentum.”
John W. Somerhalder II, 66, has stepped in as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, effective Friday, and will continue to serve as Chair of the Board.
“I look forward to working with the company’s executive team and dedicated FirstEnergy employees to continue delivering exceptional value to our customers and shareholders,” Somerhalder said. “With the Board’s continued support, I welcome the opportunity to lead the company during this transition and oversee the continued execution of our strategy to become a more resilient and forward-looking company, positioning the business for long-term stability and success.”
The company says Somerhalder’s base annual salary starts at $1,250,000. From there, he’ll participate in the company’s short-term incentive program with a target of 125% of Somerhalder’s annual base salary rate and a maximum value equal to 200% of the target award.
The Akron-based company in July 2021 agreed to a deferred prosecution settlement in a bribery case that calls for the company to pay a $230 million fine.
The company has been accused by authorities of secretly funding a $60 million bribery scheme to help win legislative passage of a $1 billion bailout for two nuclear power plants when the bill was passed in July 2019.
Strah admitted the company’s conduct in the bribery scheme was “wrong and unacceptable.”