FirstEnergy Corp. added 30,000 industrial, commercial andresidential customers in the Midwest through an acquisition of theretail natural gas business of Volunteer Energy LLC, a subsidiaryof Williams. The acquisition was filed with the Federal TradeCommission and the Department of Justice and the parties expect toclose later this month. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Volunteer had 1998 revenues of $150 million and is based inColumbus, OH. It is the largest participating gas supplier in theNorthern Indiana Public Service Company’s Customer CHOICE Programand is the largest supplier to Ohio’s school systems.

“Our acquisition of Volunteer Energy will be a solid strategicfit as we expand our retail natural gas business in the region,”said FirstEnergy Vice President Art Garfield. “The experience andexpertise of Volunteer personnel and the company’s marketingsupport systems will significantly broaden our marketing andtransaction management processes.”

Volunteer Energy will be the third natural gas operationacquired by FirstEnergy since June 1998 when it purchased MARBELEnergy Corp. of Canton, OH. Earlier this year, FirstEnergystrengthened its gas business with the purchase of Atlas GasMarketing, Inc., which had revenues of $45 million last year andserves more than 13,000 customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and NewYork. FirstEnergy also has marketing rights for all of AtlasAmerica’s natural gas production.

FirstEnergy has $18 billion in assets and nearly $6 billion inannual revenues. Its electric utility operating companies includeOhio Edison, Pennsylvania Power, The Illuminating Company, andToledo Edison, which together make it the nation’s 10th largestelectric system based on total assets, serving 2.2 millioncustomers.

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