Low PJM prices prompt FirstEnergy to temporarily idle Mansfield coal units

FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) has temporarily idled three coal-fired generating units at its Bruce Mansfield plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, due to weak energy prices.

“As has been done in the past, Bruce Mansfield’s three coal-fired generating units were taken offline late last month because of low energy prices,” a FirstEnergy spokesperson said in a March 13 email to GenerationHub.

“Prices are low due to high natural gas storage levels and a warm winter season.  Unit 1 has since entered a long-planned maintenance outage that is unrelated to economic conditions,” the spokesperson added.

It is common practice for generators operating in the competitive market to take units offline when prices do not support ongoing operations, the FirstEnergy representative added. “Competitive generating units are paid for their electricity based on market prices set by PJM Interconnection. Power generators continuously monitor those energy prices and dispatch units when prices support their operation.”

The company will continue to evaluate market conditions to determine when Mansfield’s units might return to normal operating status. FirstEnergy continues to bid the plant into the market each day, and the plant remains available to operate if called upon by PJM. 

“Bruce Mansfield remains an important component of FirstEnergy’s generation fleet, and our future plans for the plant remain unchanged.  Construction on the $260 million dewatering facility continues in preparation its use in January 2017,” the spokesperson said.

“All 340 employees continue to report to work, and we are taking this opportunity to continue to perform plant maintenance tasks,” the spokesperson added.      

The Mansfield coal plant has three bituminous coal units that together have a generating capacity of more than 2,400 MW.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.