FirstEnergy will retire six coal-fired power plants citing impact of environmental regulations

Source: FirstEnergy Corp

FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) announced today that its generation subsidiaries will retire six older coal-fired power plants located in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland by September 1, 2012. The decision to close the plants is based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which were recently finalized, and other environmental regulations.

The total capacity of the competitive plants that will be retired is 2,689 megawatts (MW). Recently, these plants served mostly as peaking or intermediate facilities, generating, on average, approximately 10 percent of the electricity produced by the company over the past three years.

The following plants will be retired: Bay Shore Plant, Units 2-4, Oregon, Ohio; Eastlake Plant, Eastlake, Ohio; Ashtabula Plant, Ashtabula, Ohio; Lake Shore Plant, Cleveland, Ohio; Armstrong Power Station, Adrian, Pa.; and R. Paul Smith Power Station, Williamsport, Md.

In total, 529 employees will be directly affected. Existing severance benefits will apply to eligible, affected employees. However, the final number of affected employees could be less as some are considered for open positions at other FirstEnergy facilities and work locations, and eligible employees take advantage of a retirement benefit being offered to those 55 years and older.

"This decision is not in any way a reflection of the fine work done by the employees at the affected plants, but is related to the impact of new environmental rules," said James H. Lash, president, 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."

The plant retirements are subject to review for reliability impacts, if any, by PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization that controls the area where they are located.

FirstEnergy is finalizing MATS compliance plans for its remaining coal-fired units. Since the Clean Air Act became law in 1970, FirstEnergy and its predecessor companies have invested more than $10 billion in environmental protection efforts.

Since 1990, FirstEnergy has reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides by more than 76 percent, sulfer dioxide by more than 86 percent and mercury by about 56 percent. When the six coal-fired plants are removed from FirstEnergy's competitive generating fleet, more than 96 percent of the power provided will come from resources that are non- or low-emitting, including nuclear, hydro, pumped-storage hydro, natural gas and scrubbed coal units.

FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies comprise the nation's largest investor-owned electric system. Its diverse generating fleet features non-emitting nuclear, scrubbed coal, natural gas, and pumped-storage hydro and other renewables, and has a total generating capacity of nearly 23,000 megawatts.

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