More coal units idled in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio

A total of seven coal units were deactivated on Oct. 1, with five of them (totaling 482 MW of capacity) located at the Potomac River power plant in Virginia of GenOn Energy (NYSE: GEN), said a PJM list of power plant deactivations updated as of Oct. 2.

GenOn, after a protracted battle with the host city of Alexandria, Va., shut the five Potomac River units on Oct. 1 and now will permanently retire them.

The other coal units within PJM that were deactivated on Oct. 1, both of them also GenOn facilities, were the 171-MW Elrama Unit 4 in Pennsylvania, and the 109-MW Niles Unit 1 in Ohio. A note in the list about Elrama Unit 4 said: “Reliability Analysis complete – impacts identified – upgrades scheduled to be completed by June 2014. Evaluating options. Unit to be kept in service until October 1, 2012, pending analysis of outages required to implement required system upgrades. Unit deactivated on Oct. 1, 2012.”

GenOn has deactivated a number of coal units recently and plans to deactivate more in the coming years and to eventually retire those that have been deactivated. In its Aug. 9 Form 10-Q filing, GenOn said that it deactivated the following coal-fired units at the referenced times: Niles Unit 2 (108 MW), Ohio, June 2012; and Elrama Units 1-3 (289 MW), Pennsylvania, mothballed June 2012, with a plan to retire in March 2014.

The company for some time has planned to shut coal units due to factors like age and new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, with the timing of those shutdowns changing as circumstances dictate. GenOn added in the Aug. 9 Form 10-Q that it expects to deactivate the following capacity, primarily coal-fired units, at the referenced times:

  • Niles Unit 1 (109 MW), Ohio, October 2012;
  • Elrama Unit 4 (171 MW), Pennsylvania, mothball October 2012 (plan to retire in March 2014);
  • Portland (401 MW), Pennsylvania, January 2015;
  • Avon Lake (732 MW), Ohio, April 2015;
  • New Castle (330 MW), Pennsylvania, April 2015;
  • Titus (243 MW), Pennsylvania, April 2015;
  • Shawville (597 MW), Pennsylvania, place in long-term protective layup in April 2015; and
  • Glen Gardner (160 MW), oil/gas-fired, New Jersey, May 2015.

GenOn said it filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in May for reliability must-run (RMR) arrangements for Niles Unit 1 and Elrama Unit 4 that were in effect from June 1 through Sept. 30, 2012. PJM determined that each of these units was needed past their planned deactivation date of June 1 to maintain grid reliability pending the completion of transmission upgrades.

The Oct. 2 PJM list shows a number of coal unit deactivations on Sept. 1, including FirstEnergy Corp.‘s (NYSE: FE) Willow Island Units 1-2, Rivesville Units 5-6 and Albright Units 1-3 in northern West Virginia.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.