Akron, Ohio, November 17, 2010 – FirstEnergy Corp. is canceling plans to repower units 4 and 5 at its R.E. Burger Plant in Shadyside, Ohio, to generate electricity principally with biomass and will permanently shut down the units by December 31, 2010.
Since the Burger biomass repowering project was announced, market prices for electricity have fallen significantly, and expected market prices no longer support a repowered Burger Plant.
“Despite our best efforts, we were unable to overcome the challenges of the difficult economy to cost-effectively repower the Burger Plant to burn biomass,” said Gary R. Leidich, executive vice president and president of FirstEnergy Generation. “We are disappointed that this groundbreaking project will not be realized, particularly because plant employees worked with such spirit and determination to find a way to keep the units operating.”
The 79 Burger Plant employees – including 62 members of Utility Workers Union of America Local 350 – will either continue at the Burger Plant during the shut-down process or be temporarily reassigned to other FirstEnergy facilities, including the W.H. Sammis Plant in Stratton, Ohio. As those activities wind down the company will offer impacted employees other job opportunities within the FirstEnergy system.
Burger Plant units 4 and 5 were included as part of a 2005 Consent Decree settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other parties to the company’s New Source Review case involving its W. H. Sammis Plant. Under the 2005 Consent Decree, FirstEnergy was obligated to repower, scrub or shut down the units as part of an overall compliance plan to reduce system-wide emissions of sulfur dioxide.
FirstEnergy has notified the U.S. EPA and the plaintiffs in the case of its plans to close the Burger units.
In addition, the company is in the process of working with Shadyside, Belmont County and Shadyside School District officials to help minimize the impacts closing the Burger units could have on the community.
As part of the original 2005 Consent Decree, FirstEnergy will complete a $1.8 billion environmental retrofit of its W.H. Sammis Plant in Stratton, Ohio. This project is designed to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 95 percent at the plant and nitrogen oxides emissions by 90 percent at its two largest units. The Sammis project, among the largest air quality control retrofits in the U.S., will be completed by the end of the year.
Its subsidiaries and affiliates are involved in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, as well as energy management and other energy-related services. Its seven electric utility operating companies comprise the nation’s fifth largest investor-owned electric system, based on 4.5 million customers served within a 36,100-square-mile area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and its generation subsidiaries control about 14,000 MW of capacity.