The Ohio Environmental Council is praising First Energy Corp. for its plan to permanently close six coal-fired power plants, including four along Ohio’s Lake Erie coast.
The Akron-based energy company’s announcement on Jan. 26 said that the shut down will take place by September for the Bayshore (Toledo), Lakeshore (Cleveland), Eastlake (Eastlake) and Ashtabula (Ashtabula) power plants. The company’s plans also include the retirement of a power plant in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Together, the six power plants have the capacity to generate nearly 2,700 megawatts of electricity—enough to power more than 600,000 homes.
“First Energy has made the right decision, and not just for its bottom line,” said Nolan Moser, clean air director and staff attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council.
“Pulling the plug on these dirty, old, outdated coal plants will deliver cleaner air to millions of Americans. It will mean less asthma, less lost work and less mercury emissions. We thank First Energy for doing right by the people of Ohio.”
First Energy indicated that it is cheaper to close the facilities rather than install modern pollution controls to control mercury emissions, as required by new federal air rules. The plants were constructed in the 1950s when few if any pollution controls were required. The utility also indicated that the plants were not used very much in recent years.
“It makes sense to finally retire these old plants,” said Moser. “Most of these facilities first fired up when IKE was in the White House and Edsels prowled the highway. These old plants’ technology is inefficient, outdated, and by today’s standards, downright dirty. First Energy has made the right decision to move towards newer, cleaner and more cost effective resources.”
First Energy noted that the low cost of energy available from other, newer power generating facilities was a factor in its decision.
“In the past few years, First Energy and Ohio’s other investor-owned utilities have made aggressive investments in energy- and cost-saving technologies and renewable energy generating facilities,” said Moser. “This boost in energy efficiency and new wind and solar farms are beginning to power Ohio with clean, affordable power. These new resources are adding power capacity, putting people to work, and keeping energy costs down. We hope that First Energy will continue to invest in a cleaner energy future.”
Moser compared these new resources to the older facilities that First Energy plans to close down. “On the one hand, Ohio is investing in clean, efficient new energy resources; on the other some utilities still have 1950’s era coal plants operating. First Energy deserves credit for moving away from old, inefficient facilities and investing instead in clean, new technologies. That’s good for Ohio consumers, our economy and environment.”