PJM clears FirstEnergy coal plants in Pennsylvania for shutdown

PJM Interconnection said in a power plant pending deactivation list updated to Sept. 20 that the coal-fired Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell plants of FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) can be deactivated on Oct. 9 as the company requested.

Said an identical note in that list for each of the five affected units: “Detailed reliability studies complete. The impacts to the transmission system from the unit deactivation can be mitigated through the completion of required baseline upgrades and the implementation of temporary operating measures in the interim period. Unit not required for system reliability and may deactivate as requested.”

The affected units, all in Pennsylvania, are: Hatfield’s Ferry Units 1-3, 530 MW each; and Mitchell Unit 2 (82 MW) and Mitchell Unit 3 (277 MW).

Citing low market prices and the compliance costs for ever-toughening environmental standards, FirstEnergy said July 9 that it plans to deactivate these two coal plants by Oct. 9. The company said the total capacity of these plants is 2,080 MW, representing approximately 10% of the company’s total generating capacity, but about 30% of the estimated $925m cost to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS).

Since that time some parties, including Pennsylvania regulators, had raised the issue of whether shutdown of these plants would harm grid reliability.

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.