By - Jim Vess

FirstEnergy plans to close four fossil fuel-fired power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania

Energize Weekly, September 5, 2018

FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) announced Aug. 29 that it plans to shutter four fossil fuel-fired power plants with a total of 4,000 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity by 2022.

“FES is closing the plants due to a market environment that fails to adequately compensate generators for the resiliency and fuel-security attributes that the plants provide,” the company said in a statement.

This comes after FES, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., announced plans in the spring to also close three nuclear power plants with 4,000 MW of capacity for financial reasons. The coal and nuclear plants are on the grid operated by PJM Interconnection.

Coal-fired and nuclear generation have been losing to cheaper natural gas-fired generation, and wind and solar in bidding into PJM’s wholesale and capacity markets.

“As with nuclear, our fossil-fueled plants face the insurmountable challenge of a market that does not sufficiently value their contribution to the security and flexibility of our power system,” Don Moul, president of FES Generation Companies and chief nuclear officer, said in statement.

Critics, however, contend that the utility is paying the price for hanging on to legacy generation.

“The company has made bad decisions on these plants for years as costs of cleaner alternatives have continued to decline, and they must now accept the consequences and stop asking for a handout,” Daniel Sawmiller, the Ohio energy policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote in a blog.

The fossil-fuel plants slated for decommissioning:

  • The 24 MW coal-fired Eastlake 6 plant in Eastlake, Ohio, on June 1, 2021
  • The 2,490 MW coal-fired Bruce Mansfield Unit 1-3, in Shippingport, Pa., on June 1, 2021
  • The 13 MW W.H. Sammis Diesel station, in Stratton, Ohio, on June 1, 2021
  • The 1,490 MW coal-fired W.H. Sammis Units 5-7 on June 1, 2022

The proposed closures must be reviewed by PJM, which operates the nation’s largest regional grid covering parts of the mid-Atlantic region and the Midwest. If PJM determines that one or more of the units need to be kept running for grid reliability, FES will provide estimates on the cost of running the plants and keeping them open.

In May, when the PJM analyzed the impact of closing the three nuclear plants with a combined generating capacity of 4,000 MW, the grid operator found no pressing reliability issue.

“Sufficient transmission margin remains after deactivations to import emergency power into impacted LDAs,” PJM said. An LDA, or load deliverability area, is the unit the grid operator uses to measure delivery constraints.

The three nuclear plants set for closure by October 2021 are:

  • Bessie-Davis Power Station, Oak Harbor, Ohio (908 MW)
  • Beaver Valley Power Station, Shippingport, Penn. Unit 1 (939 MW) and Unit 2 (933 MW)
  • Perry Nuclear Power Plant, Perry, Ohio (1,281 MW)

Coal-fired and nuclear generation still make up more than half the daily generation in the PJM, according to the grid operator.

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