No doubt the Obama EPA views this merely as a business decision made by First Energy.
The Akron Beacon Journal report is below.
FirstEnergy closing 6 coal-fired power plants
By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published: January 26, 2012 – 09:34 AM | Updated: January 26, 2012 – 12:44 PM
FirstEnergy Corp. on Thursday announced it intends to retire six coal-fired power plants, including four in Ohio, because of stricter federal anti-pollution rules.
The older and dirtier plants will be closed by Sept. 1.
The decision affects 529 workers who will be eligible for severance benefits, the Akron-based utility said. It indicated that the number of affected workers might be less because some workers might be considered for other open positions within the company and because of a retirement benefit being offered to workers 55 and older.
The plants to be closed are:
• Bay Shore Plant, Units 2-4, in Oregon, Ohio, outside Toledo.
• Eastlake Plant, Eastlake.
• Ashtabula Plant, Ashtabula.
• Lake Shore Plant, Cleveland.
• Armstrong Power Station, Adrian, Pa.
• R. Paul Smith Power Station, Williamsport, Md.
The Eastlake plant is still running and the five other plants have been mothballed, the company said.
The closures were triggered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS), which were finalized on Dec. 21.
Reducing the emissions of mercury, heavy metals and air toxics from coal-burning power plants is needed to protect human health, the EPA said.
Installing scrubbers and other anti-pollution equipment on small, old power plants was not economically feasible, FirstEnergy concluded.
The utility’s decision is “related to the impact of the new environmental rules,” said James H. Lash, president of FirstEnergy Generation and chief nuclear officer.
“We recently completed a comprehensive review of our coal-fired generating plants and determined that additional investments to implement MATS and other environmental rules would make these older plants even less likely to be dispatched under market rules. As a result, it was necessary to retire the plants rather than continue operations.”
Closing the six plants will be comparable to losing the D. Bruce Mansfield Power Station in Shippingport, Pa. It is FirstEnergy’s largest coal-fired power plant and produces 2,460 megawatts, enough electricity to power 1.5 million homes.
The total capacity of the six plants is 2,689 megawatts.
The plants most recently have served as peaking or intermediate facilities.
On average, they have produced 10 percent of the electricity produced by the company over the last three years, FirstEnergy said.
Environmentalists hailed FirstEnergy’s decision.
“FirstEnergy has made the right decision, and not just for the bottom line,” said Nolan Moser, clean air director and staff attorney for the Columbus-based Ohio Environmental Council.
“Pulling the plug on these dirty, old, outdated coal plants will deliver cleaner air to millions of Americans. . . . We thank FirstEnergy for doing right by the people of Ohio.”
FirstEnergy has 16 coal-fired power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia. Coal produces two thirds of the utility’s electricity.
Columbus-based American Electric Power has said it intends to close all or part of 11 power plants and eliminate 600 jobs because of the new federal rules. That includes three Ohio power plants.
Some have estimated that the federal rules will shut down 32 power plants in the United States and perhaps shutter another 36.