FirstEnergy announced today that they are closing their Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell (not the same as AEP’s WV Mitchell plant) plants in PA this fall. The Hatfield’s Ferry plant has sulfate/nitrate scrubbers, just like FE’s WV Harrison plant, and is about the same age as the Harrison plant. Apparently, the Hatfield’s Ferry scrubbers produce a different kind of waste that is more hazardous than Harrison’s dry scrubbers.
Why is FirstEnergy shutting down these two PA plants, with combined capacity of over 2000 kW? Because PA is a deregulated state. If FirstEnergy were going to try to sell these plants, no one would be willing to buy them at any kind of price FirstEnergy would accept. In WV, FirstEnergy wants to “sell” the Harrison plant to Mon Power at two or three times the plant’s real market value, because WV is a regulated state, where rate payers can be forced to pay for plants that are obsolete and expensive – unless the WV PSC stops the deal from going through. That alternative just isn’t available in deregulated PA.
As the closing of these PA plants indicates, the Harrison Power Station is too expensive at any price.
While the situation is a little more complicated than it first appeared in the FE press release, the fact still remains that the risks of operating coal fired plants are high and rising. This demonstrates how high the stakes are in WV, for both the AEP and FE coal plant cases.