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FirstEnergy Pa. plant closures concern PUC chairman

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The chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has voiced concerns about how Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp.'s decision to shut down power plants could affect the state and overall electricity grid reliability.

Robert F. Powelson expressed the concerns Friday in testimony to the state Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, according to a PUC news release.

Job losses also are a key concern.

“We’re trying to be a little more proactive as a Commission, getting at some of the issues surrounding the closure announcement, but looking at maybe potential options for those plants to stay open,” Powelson said.

But he said the PUC’s interest is not an attempt to exercise regulatory authority over FirstEnergy on the matter and it’s not the PUC’s place to make managerial decisions for wholesale electric generation suppliers.

FirstEnergy is the parent company of utility Metropolitan Edison Co., serving parts of the midstate. The facilities in question are the Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell plants in southwestern Pennsylvania, the PUC said.

FirstEnergy said in July it expected to shut down the facilities by next month, subject to review for potential reliability impacts.

FirstEnergy cited continued low market prices and current and future environmental regulations for planning to deactivate the facilities with about 2,080 megawatts of capacity.

They represented about 30 percent of about $925 million FirstEnergy had expected to spend on complying with federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

 

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey covers York County, agribusiness, energy and environment, and workforce issues. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at brentb@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

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