Pennsylvania

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FirstEnergy May Delay Closing Western Pa. Coal Plants

A FirstEnergy coal plant in Cleveland, Ohio.

Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer/Landov

A FirstEnergy coal plant in Cleveland, Ohio.

FirstEnergy Corp. may delay closing a pair of coal-fired power plants in Western Pennsylvania, over concerns about grid reliability.

Last month FirstEnergy announced it would close the Hatfield’s Ferry plant in Masontown and the Mitchell Power Station in Courtney on October 9 and layoff 380 employees.

The company cited the burdensome cost of installing equipment to comply with federal regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports there is a possibility the closures could be pushed back:

The grid operator that schedules electricity for 13 states including Pennsylvania believes that reliability could be compromised if the two coal-fired power stations retire within the next three months.

According to Valley Forge-based PJM Interconnection, the upgrades that would be necessary to the transmission infrastructure to compensate for the lost generation will not be ready by the proposed closing date. Therefore, it’s asking the company to continue operating the plants until reliability issues are addressed. It’s not yet clear how long that will take.

A FirstEnergy spokeswoman told the Post-Gazette the company is looking over PJM’s assessment, but currently still moving forward to close the plants by Oct. 9.

Together, the plants can generate about 2,000 megawatts of power. One megawatt and power about 1,000 homes.

The boom in the production of shale oil and gas has lead to a decline in the coal industry nationwide. Demand for coal is at a nearly 63-year low.

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