| Sept 20
Sept 20 U.S. power grid operator PJM
Interconnection said on Friday it determined that FirstEnergy
Corp can retire its Hatfield's Ferry and Mitchell
coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania without harming system
PJM, which oversees the power grid in 13 Mid-Atlantic and
Midwest states and the District of Columbia, said it told
FirstEnergy of its conclusions in a letter dated Sept. 19.
In July, FirstEnergy said it wanted to shut the two plants
by Oct. 9 due to weak power market prices and the high cost of
complying with stricter environmental rules.
Together, the two plants can generate about 2,080 megawatts,
which could power about two million homes.
In the letter, PJM said the retirement of the two plants
will impact the transmission system but "those impacts can be
handled by transmission upgrades and the implementation of
temporary operating measures."
PJM said the Hatfield's Ferry and Mitchell retirements are
part of a massive fuel shift underway across the United States
with many generation owners retiring coal-fired plants.
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
Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, power
companies have already shut or converted about 16,000 MW of
coal-fired units as low electricity and natural gas prices have
made it uneconomical to upgrade the facilities to keep up with
the government's stricter environmental rules.
Generating companies have said they also plan to shut 37,000
MW of coal-fired units over the next 10 years or so.
Hatfield's 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.
The company said the shutdowns would affect about 380