FirstEnergy Corp Shuttering Two Western PA Coal Plants
Reuters reports a pair of Western Pennsylvania coal plants will close by early October.
FirstEnergy Corp cited the increased cost of complying with environmental regulations. The company expects the closings will impact 380 employees at the Hatfield’s Ferry plant in Masontown and the Mitchell Power Station in Courtney.
Together, the company said the plants could generate 2,080 megawatts, about 10 percent of its total capacity. One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes. FirstEnergy said it would cost about $275 million to install the equipment at the two plants to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, about 15,000 MW of coal-fired power plants have closed as low electricity and natural gas prices have made it uneconomical for generating companies to upgrade those facilities to keep up with the government’s stricter environmental rules. Those generating companies have also announced plans to shut more than 37,000 MW of coal-fired units over the next 10 years or so.
Environmentalists applauded the news of the plant closings.
“These plants sorely needed upgrades to stay modern,” says Kim Teplitzky of the Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania Chapter, “It’s a good move for FirstEnergy. Hopefully this means we’re clearing the way to bring more renewable energy online.”
Two weeks ago President Obama gave an address on climate change, saying he would direct the federal Environmental Protection Agency to complete carbon emissions standards for new and existing power plants.
Governor Corbett reacted by calling the proposal a “war on coal” and a “war on jobs.” Pennsylvania is the fourth-largest coal producing state in the nation.
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.
Late last month, NRG Energy announced plans to retrofit the New Castle coal-fired power plant to run on natural gas. The plant’s previous owner had scheduled it for closure in April 2015.