Fates of Three Old FirstEnergy Coal Plants in WV Still Uncertain

The State Journal
26 January 2012
By Pam Kasey

Update Jan. 26: FirstEnergy is still deciding whether to close the Albright, Rivesville and Willow Island plants in West Virginia.

"We will continue to analyze these plants to determine how best to comply with the new environmental rules," said FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin. "We should complete that analysis in the next few weeks. We will communicate our conclusions immediately and implement an integrated schedule for all affected units."

FirstEnergy will close six coal-fired power plants by Sept. 1 because of environmental regulations, but none are in West Virginia.

On Jan. 26, FirstEnergy said it will close plants at Ashtabula, Cleveland, Eastlake and Oregon, Ohio; Adrian, Pa.; and Williamsport, Md.

The plants represent about 2,700 megawatts of nameplate capacity.

Although FirstEnergy said the plants generated about 10 percent of the electricity produced by the utility over the past three years, the Ohio units have been on much-reduced operating status since September 2010.

The company said its decision would directly affect 529 employees. Some might transfer to other FirstEnergy facilities and work sites, and others have the opportunity to take advantage of a retirement benefit offered to employees 55 years and older.

"This decision is not in any way a reflection of the fine work done by the employees at the affected plants, but is related to the impact of new environmental rules," said FirstEnergy President James Lash in the media release.

He indicated that a review of the company's coal-fired plants determined it would not be cost-effective to get the older ones into compliance with environmental regulations the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in December.

The announcement leaves open the utility company's West Virginia coal-fired plants at Albright, Rivesville and Willow Island, which have similar ages, sizes and emissions profiles to the plants slated for closure. A FirstEnergy spokesman did not respond when asked if they are being considered for a later closure announcement.