Here is a perfect example of the trends identified by the EIA in my earlier post. FirstEnergy’s huge Sammis plant in Jefferson County, OH near Steubenville is being scaled back to a “dispatch-only-when-needed footing.” This is a 2233 megawatt plant in which FirstEnergy recently invested $1.8 billion in pollution control. If power companies are idling coal plants like Sammis, there is a real shift going on.
The FirstEnergy press release (from which the reporter obviously got the entire story) apparently focused on low gas prices, but note the other reference to low electricity prices. Electricity prices are low because the long term trend for electricity demand in PJM is downward. This trend will not change if natural gas prices rise.
FirstEnergy now operates in a newly deregulated Ohio electricity market. The company is being forced to by less expensive gas fired power on the open market, while it idles its own coal fired plants. Meanwhile, in WV’s regulated and coal-controlled electricity market, electric rates continued to rise because they are tied entirely to more expensive coal fuel and coal burning technologies.