3 More Power Plants Set to Close in W.Pa

By Leonard, Kim | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

3 More Power Plants Set to Close in W.Pa


Leonard, Kim, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Homer City plant operator can't get financing for upgrade

Edison Mission Energy said on Wednesday that it has been unable to raise financing for $700 million in scrubber installations and other air pollution control upgrades at the EME Homer City plant in Indiana County.

The move raises questions about the plant's future. The company said it will take a fourth-quarter write-down of $1.05 billion for the Homer City plant, which it operates for owner General Electric Capital Corp., plus three other coal plants and some wind power plants.

In a statement, Edison said it is "working cooperatively with the owner-lessors of the plant to transition operation of the facility."

GE spokeswoman Christa Bowers declined to comment.

Edison said the talks with GE will likely result in its no longer controlling the plant.

Plant officials, meanwhile, are working with the state Department of Environmental Protection and other government officials to permit two scrubbers needed for the 1,884-megawatt plant to comply with environmental regulations. The 43-year-old plant is considered one of the nation's dirtiest coal-fired plants.

Tougher air quality regulations have shortened the life spans of three more coal-fired power plants in Western Pennsylvania, with GenOn Energy Inc. announcing on Wednesday that its Elrama, New Castle and Shawville plants will close by spring 2015.

They are among the latest coal-fired plant closings to be announced by major power producers because of new environmental regulations.

Elrama, a 460-megawatt plant along the Monongahela River in Washington County, will be deactivated in June, Houston-based GenOn said.

The oldest sections of the three-unit plant began generating power in the early 1950s. The 50 employees there are represented by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 29, and provisions for them will be worked out with union leaders, GenOn spokesman Mark Baird said. Local 29 officials could not be reached for comment.

The closing will be a blow to the area, said Debbie Keefer, director of the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce in Charleroi. "Anything with that many employees and that kind of activity, the heavy industry, has a supply chain that helps our economy," she said.

"When it goes away, there is a definite impact.

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