FirstEnergy to retire three more coal-fired power plants within its fleet

Source: FirstEnergy Corp. 

Albright Power Station FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) announced that its Monongahela Power Company (Mon Power) subsidiary will be retiring three older coal-fired power plants located in West Virginia 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 following plants will be retired: Albright Power Station, Willow Island Power Station, and Rivesville Power Station. In total, 105 employees will be directly affected.

The total capacity of these regulated plants is 660 megawatts (MW), about 3 percent of FirstEnergy's total regulated and competitive generation portfolio. Recently, these plants served mostly as peaking facilities, generating, on average, less than 1 percent of the electricity produced by FirstEnergy over the past three years.

Mon Power recently completed a yearlong study of its older, unscrubbed regulated coal-fired units to determine the potential impact of significant changes in environmental regulations. It was determined that additional investments to implement MATS and other environmental rules would make these plants even less likely to be dispatched. As a result, the decision was made to retire these West Virginia plants rather than continue operations.

This follows FirstEnergy's announcement last month that its competitive generation subsidiaries would retire six older, coal-fired power plants located in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland by September 1, 2012.

"The high cost to implement MATS and other environmental rules is the reason these Mon Power plants are being retired," said James R. Haney, regional president of Mon Power and president of West Virginia Operations for FirstEnergy.

The number of affected employees could be less than 105 as some will be considered for open positions at other FirstEnergy facilities and work locations. In addition, existing severance benefits will apply to eligible affected employees and certain employees may take advantage of an additional benefit being offered to those who are eligible for retirement.

All of the recently announced 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.

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, sulfur dioxide by more than 86 percent and mercury by about 56 percent. When the older coal-fired plants are retired and removed from FirstEnergy's competitive and regulated generating fleet, nearly 100 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.

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