In a sign of just how dire things are for coal-fired power, FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) plans around Sept. 16 to completely idle its seven-unit, coal-fired Sammis plant in Ohio – on top of deactivations due around Sept. 1 of units at six other coal plants.
FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young told GenerationHub on Aug. 17 that the Sammis idling is due to a weak economy, which means low power demand, and historically low power market prices. All seven units at Sammis will be maintained on standby and any or all of them will be able to be started as the power market improves, or if PJM needs the capacity, said Young. Most of the Sammis workforce will be transferred to other FirstEnergy plants, with 100-130 remaining on site to do various work at Sammis.
Sammis is a massive, 2,233-MW (total includes five oil-fired peakers) plant that got a heavy emissions control spend late last decade to get it in-line with then-current emissions standards, though Young noted that some relatively small additional spending is needed to get it in compliance with newer U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules. The massive upgrade project cost an estimated $1.8bn to provide new air quality control systems. SO2 scrubbers were installed on all seven coal units. New NOx control equipment removes up to 90% of NOx. A new 850-foot stack also was built.
Four coal-fired Sammis units, each with 180 MW capacity, came online between 1959-1962. Unit 5 came online in 1967 and generates 300 MW. Unit 6 came online in 1969 and has baseload generation of 600 MW. Unit 7 came online in 1971 and has baseload generation of 600 MW. The plant uses an average of 18,000 tons of coal daily for an annual average of 6.6 million tons.
Young said the Sammis idling is on top of the fact that FirstEnergy still plans to deactivate around Sept. 1 coal-fired capacity at six plants: Bay Shore Units 2-4 in Ohio; Eastlake Units 4-5 in Ohio; Armstrong in Pennsylvania; R Paul Smith in Maryland; and Albright, Rivesville and Willow Island in West Virginia. There are other coal units that FirstEnergy also planned to deactivate, but will now run into 2015 under reliability must-run agreements to help with grid stability, Young noted. They are Ashtabula in Ohio, Eastlake Units 1-3 in Ohio and Lakeshore in Ohio.