UPDATE 3-FirstEnergy to shut two Pennsylvania coal power plants

Tue Jul 9, 2013 10:58am EDT

By Scott DiSavino

July 9 (Reuters) - FirstEnergy Corp will shut two coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania by Oct. 9 due to weak power prices and the high cost of complying with stricter environmental rules, the company said on Tuesday.

In a federal filing, FirstEnergy said it would recognize an impairment charge of about $488 million ($321 million after tax) in the second quarter of 2013 for the shutdowns.

The plants are Hatfields Ferry in Masontown and Mitchell in Courtney, FirstEnergy said in a release. It expects the shutdown of the two plants to affect about 380 employees.

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.

FirstEnergy said it expected to invest about $650 million in mercury-related control technology to enhance or modify existing air quality equipment or install new equipment on its remaining facilities.

After these upgrades, FirstEnergy said it expected 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 percent to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The shutdown of the two plants is subject to review for reliability impacts by PJM Interconnection, which operates the power grid serving 61 million people in 13 U.S. mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states and the District of Columbia.

After those closings, FirstEnergy will still operate a fleet of power plants with combined generating capacity of more than 18,000 MW, it said. Of that, 56 percent will be from coal, 22 percent from nuclear, 13 percent renewable and 9 percent gas and oil.

Hatfields Ferry's three 530 MW units entered service from 1969-1971. There are two units at Mitchell - a 278 MW coal unit that entered service in 1963 and an 82 MW oil/gas unit that entered service in 1949.

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Comments (2)
Shannmann wrote:
“Weak power prices”??? My electric bill says differently! I have this company and I can say its anything but cheap. They will charge me even more now due to supply diminishing and put how many workers out of a job. Gotta love that greedy mentality

Jul 09, 2013 9:28am EDT  --  Report as abuse
dude1119 wrote:
“May3, 2011
FirstEnergy Corp. sales in the first three months of the year rose 9 percent, compared with the same time in 2010 to $3.6 billion.
But profits were just $45 million, or 15 cents per share, down 70 percent from $149 million, or 51 cents per share, in last year’s first quarter.
The company cited expenses associated with its $4.7 billion stock purchase of Allegheny Energy, a Pennsylvania electric utility, along with higher maintenance and operating costs. And it said the merger with Allegheny will accelerate profits over the next several years.”
So a little over a year ago FirstEnergy said profits were down due to the acquisition of Allegheny Energy and higher maintenance and operating costs. Now, a year later they are blaming low profits and closing some plants,”due to weak power prices and the high cost of complying with stricter environmental rules”! Either they lied a year ago, or they are lying now ! ! !

Jul 09, 2013 10:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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