Power International got its plug pulled Friday.
The consultant and power plant engineering firm based in Coeur d’Alene got the ax from parent company CINergy, a diversified utility company based in Cincinnati.
CINergy bought Power International last July, looking to find a company that would explore international power markets for investment opportunities.
The merger of Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. and PSI Resources Inc. formed CINergy, the ninth largest utility in the country.
As recently as a month ago, Power employed about 35 consultants, engineers and staff here, with the same number working in Power’s Prague office in the Czech Republic.
The Coeur d’Alene office began to let people go at the beginning of June, said CINergy spokesman Steve Brash said. The 14 people left will be gone by July 14, he said.
Managing director Mike Mallinen, a longtime Idaho resident, started Power International in 1991 as a three-man engineering arm of Power Engineers Inc. of California. They became the separate firm Power International in 1994 before being bought by CINergy.
Mallinen has left the company and continues to negotiate a buyout of his contract with CINergy, according to spokesman Steve Brash in Cincinnati.
CINergy’s reasoning for the decision came purely from its bottom line, Brash said. Shareholders of the two companies that created CINergy were promised $1.5 billion in savings when the deal was completed. That left little money for international exploration, Brash said.
CINergy will still own the assets of Power International, but its Cincinnati staff will handle the firm’s operations. No one will be relocated from Coeur d’Alene to Cincinnati, Brash said.
“We feel our best opportunities right now are in this market here, and that is where we will place our greatest attention,” he said. “We will not abandon our international efforts, however.”
Power International had plenty of potential to bring high-paying jobs to Coeur d’Alene. The company had contracts to engineer a refit of a power plant in the Czech Republic and had written a privatization plan for the emerging republic.
In December, Power International got a contract to privatize the entire power grid of Kazakhstan. At that time, Mallinen said that the firm would probably add 40 people in a new Kazakhstan office and add 20 people to the Coeur d’Alene office on top of growth already planned for the headquarters here.
The firm’s role began to evolve from one of engineering to more consulting and investment brokering as more opportunities to refit the aging power plants of the former Eastern Bloc arose, Mallinen said.
The pride of the firm was the topnotch professionals Power International recruited who had the political and business savvy to work with Eastern Bloc governments in securing privatization plans, Mallinen had said.
CINergy will gradually sell off its investments in the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan power projects. Once the commitments already made to those projects are met by Power International employees abroad, they will lose their jobs, he said.
Mallinen could not be reached for comment Friday.