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FirstEnergy to close two Pennsylvania coal-fired power plants

By , - Last modified: July 9, 2013 at 10:48 AM
Photo courtesy of FirstEnergy Annual Report: Hatfield's Ferry Power Station in Masontown, Fayette County.
Photo courtesy of FirstEnergy Annual Report: Hatfield's Ferry Power Station in Masontown, Fayette County.

FirstEnergy Corp., which operates as MetEd in Berks and Northampton counties, said today that it expects to deactivate two of its coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania by October.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Thorton said the decision was based on the cost of operations at the two plants, coupled with the increase in costs associated with complying with environmental regulations and lower than expected market price for electricity.

The plants are Hatfield's Ferry Power Station in Masontown, Fayette County, and the Mitchell Power Station in Courtney, Washington County.

In total, about 380 plant employees and generation-related positions are expected to be affected. Eligible employees will receive severance benefits through the FirstEnergy plan or as provided by their collective bargaining agreement.

In 2005, Greenpeace USA named Hatfield's Ferry Power Station as one of the worst polluters in the nation.

The total capacity of these plants is 2,080 megawatts, representing about 10 percent of the company's total generating capacity, yet about 30 percent of the estimated $925 million cost to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

With the deactivation of these two plants, in addition to the nine plants the company announced for deactivation last year, nearly 100 percent of the power generated by FirstEnergy will derive from resources that are either non- or low-emitting, including nuclear, hydro, pumped-storage hydro, natural gas and scrubbed coal units, the company said.

The company's fleet after the deactivations will be comprised of 56 percent coal, 22 percent nuclear, 13 percent renewables and 9 percent gas/oil, and will have a generating capacity of more than 18,000 megawatts.

The company said it expects to invest about $650 million in MATS-related control technology to enhance or modify existing air quality equipment or install new equipment on its remaining facilities.

Following these upgrades, FirstEnergy expects to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by 84 percent, sulfur dioxide by 95 percent and mercury by 91 percent below 1990 levels. In addition, the company expects to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 20 to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The plant deactivations are subject to review for reliability impacts, if any, by PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission operator that controls the area where they are located.

Thorton said she does not expect the closures to impact the company's ability to meet its energy demands.

Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook. Circle Stacy Wescoe on .

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