Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell Power Stations Able to Close Oct.
Washington PA Observer Reporter
23 September 2013
By Bob Niedbala, Staff Writer
FirstEnergy will be able to close its Hatfield’s Ferry and
Mitchell power stations Oct. 9, as the company planned, without
jeopardizing transmission system reliability, according to an
analysis completed by PJM Interconnection.
PJM, which ensures the reliability of the electrical grid,
informed FirstEnergy of the conclusions of its study in a letter
to FirstEnergy dated Sept. 19, said Paula DuPont-Kidd, PJM
PJM’s review indicates First Energy will be able to deactivate the
plants Oct. 9.
“The conclusion of the study is that there are no system
reliability problems that will occur as a result of them closing
the plants at that time,” DuPont-Kidd said.
PJM had initially said potential impacts of the closings to system
reliability might not be able to be addressed by FirstEnergy prior
to the proposed closing date.
However, at a state Senate Consumer Protection and Professional
Licensure Committee hearing Sept. 13, a PJM official said further
review indicated the need to keep the plants open was very limited
though the final analysis was then incomplete.
The letter to FirstEnergy indicated while there are impacts to the
transmission system as a result of the retirement of the
generating units, those impacts can be handled by transmission
upgrades and implementation of temporary operating measures.
The necessary operating measures and upgrades are now in place or
are in the works to address these issues, DuPont-Kidd said.
FirstEnergy announced in July that it would close Hatfield’s
Ferry, a 1,710-megawatt plant in Greene County, and Mitchell, a
370- megawatt plant in Washington County, eliminating the jobs of
The company said the decision was based on weak demand for
electricity, low electricity prices and the costs of bringing the
plants into compliance with environmental regulations.
FirstEnergy still plans to close the two plants Oct. 9, Jennifer
Young, a company spokeswoman, said Monday. It has no intention of
reopening the plants later, which would require upgrading the
plants’ environmental equipment to comply with current
regulations, she said.
Though mention was made about possible buyers for the plants at
the Sept. 13 hearing, Young said FirstEnergy has not been
approached by any prospective buyers.
PJM noted the closing of Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell are part of
a massive fuel shift under way across the country.
Coal-fired generation faces competitive challenges from low
natural gas prices resulting from an abundance of shale gas, the
cost of complying with environmental regulations, incentives for
renewable generation and slow growth in the demand for
electricity, it said.
Members of the Utility Workers Union of America, which represents
plant employees, and local elected officials, including state Rep.
Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, and state Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg,
attempted to stop the closing.
“I’m really disappointed with PJM especially considering that only
a month ago they said closing the plants would have a negative
impact,” Snyder said.
“I don’t know how things could have changed so dramatically.”
Snyder said she believes there will be more problems with power
outages if the plants are closed. “It has to have an effect on the
grid,” she said.
Solobay also said he was disappointed in the decision. “We were
hoping PJM would recognize the need and keep at least Hatfield’s,
if not both plants open, to ensure service and reliability,” he
Solobay said he hoped to learn this week the identity of the
company the union has indicated might be interested in buying the
Efforts to prevent the closing would continue.
“It’s not done until it’s done,” he said.