By: John Funk |
FirstEnergy Solutions on Wednesday night announced it plans to close its last Ohio coal-fired power plant, the W.H. Sammis plant on the Ohio River in Stratton, and its last Pennsylvania coal plant, the Bruce Mansfield plant on the River in Shippingport.
The company blamed the regional wholesale markets overseen by grid manager PJM Interconnection. It set June 1, 2021, to close Bruce Mansfield and June 1, 2022 to close Sammis.
“Our decision to retire the fossil-fueled plants was every bit as difficult as the one we made five months ago to deactivate our nuclear assets [in 2020 and 2021],” said Donald Moul, President of FES Generation Companies and Chief Nuclear Officer, in a prepared statement.
Moul added that the wholesale market system — in which PJM dispatches the lowest priced power first — does not value the old coal and nuclear power plants.
The company, along with its parent FirstEnergy Corp., has asked the Trump Administration to intervene in the markets and order the plants to continue operating despite their higher-priced power compared to electricity generated by new gas turbine plants and, at times, wind farms. The costs would be passed to consumers.
Moul said the company could reverse its decision if Trump takes action, a move that is sure to be challenged in federal court because markets in deregulated states are, by law, competitive.
PJM must approve the plant closures and could offer higher rates, temporarily, until new transmission lines are built, if needed, to move more power to the region. FES is asking PJM for an “exemption” from this “must-offer” rule. The company temporarily delayed the closing of its Eastlake power plants in 2015 at PJM’s request.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, which has opposed any “bailout” of the company’s nuclear or coal-fired plants, immediately urged Ohio and Pennsylvania state governments to help Shippingport and Straton “to help identify solutions for the impacts on working families.”