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Report: Planned closures of FirstEnergy coal plants won’t affect grid reliability
PJM Interconnect, which operates the electricity grid in Pennsylvania and 13 other states, has concluded that when FirstEnergy retires its coal-fired power plants in the region the move will have no effect on service. The company has announced plans to close the Bruce Mansfield plant outside Pittsburgh, the W.H. Sammis plant in eastern Ohio and the Pleasants Power plant in northern West Virginia.
FirstEnergy, unable to land a bailout, says it will close plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania
FirstEnergy announced this week it will close its three remaining coal-fired power plants in Ohio and its last one in Pennsylvania. The company said the plants cannot compete with electricity produced by renewables and natural gas. Some observers cautioned that the announcement may be largely political, however, as FirstEnergy continues to seek federal subsidies to keep the plants online. “We're talking about billions of dollars being used to bail out a failing industry, when these closures are inevitable and irreversible,” one critic of that strategy said. “There are a lot better uses for that money.”
Southwest Pennsylvania Is One of Several Transition-Initiative Targets
Southwestern Pennsylvania is among several regions that stand to benefit from a Just Transition Fund initiative supported by Google.org aimed at developing a post-coal economic-development strategy: "It's a complex, complicated problem, and it's going to take more than philanthropy to address it.”
A Post-Coal ‘Playbook’ for Shuttered Plants in Pennsylvania
The state Department of Community and Economic Development has started a program to create post-closure “playbooks” for 11 coal-fired power plants. The aim of the project is to create partnerships between the companies that own the shuttered sites and developers who want to repurpose the properties. “The documents aim to describe the land available at each plant and the cost of remediating environmental hazards there as well as offer suggestions for future use. Like all good real estate agents, officials want to help would-be buyers envision the possibilities.”
FirstEnergy’s Failures Require a Fierce Response From Civic Leaders and Elected Officials
As it closes two nuclear plants in Ohio, FirstEnergy continues a downward spiral leaving communities to pick up the pieces. "As Cindy Winland of the Just Transition Fund has pointed out, the size and the number of closings of coal-fired and nuclear plants in Ohio makes the state an epicenter of energy industry disruption."
Survey: Swing-State Voters Favor Transition to Renewable Electricity Generation
A new survey finds that most voters in five swing states—Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia—favor state policies mandating 100 percent reliance on renewable energy for electricity generation. The survey results “serve as a potential warning to candidates to support renewable-energy policies or face possible voter backlash.”
A Mine Closure in Pennsylvania Is Another Sign of the Times
The 4 West Mine in Mount Morris, Penn., is closing soon because its owners say it is no longer a going concern. Almost 400 workers will lose their jobs at 4 West, which produced 1.6 million tons of coal last year, down from 2.1 million tons in 2015, a drop indicative of the industry’s regional decline and of the failing business models coal-mining companies have followed. “It’s going to disappear,” said a local mining consultant. “Gas is going to replace it.”
In coal country, a flood of money to build other businesses
Grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission support innovative job creation and training efforts in coal communities
Pennsylvania Expands Solar Incentive Program: $5,000 Grants; $40,000 Loans
The State of Pennsylvania has earmarked $30 million for an initiative that will pay companies $5,000 for every solar job created and loan up to $40,000 on solar projects. “Developing new renewable energy sources including solar is critical to ensuring Pennsylvania has a balanced and diverse energy mix that maintains our position as a major energy producing state,” said Gov. Tom Wolf.
Holdouts Pursue a Risky Strategy in Coal-Comeback Expectations
“The coal industry has stabilized, but it’s not going to come back,” said Blair Zimmerman, a former miner and now the commissioner for Greene County, one of Pennsylvania’s oldest coal regions. “We need to look at the future.”