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7 coal-powered plants to close in Ohio and Pa.



Published: Thu, March 1, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Chelsea Miller

cmiller@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The closure of seven coal-powered plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania will prevent more than 179 premature deaths, 300 heart attacks and 2,800 asthma attacks, says the Clean Air Task Force.

The plants are owned by GenOn Energy Inc., a nationwide energy generator, which announced Wednesday that it plans to close plants across the two states.

The company said forecasted returns on investments were insufficient to comply with current environmental regulations, and the shutdowns would represent a loss of 3,140 megawatts in generating capacity.

Megawatt is the standard term of measurement for bulk electricity.

Ohio plants affected include those in Niles and Avon Lake, and plants retiring in Pennsylvania are in New Castle, Portland, Shawville, Titus and Elrama. The closures will occur between 2012 and 2015.

Several area activists have been pushing for cleaner energy alternatives, including the Sierra Club, which hailed GenOn’s announcement as a victory for citizens of Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Sierra Club is a grass-roots organization that pushes for alternative, environmentally friendly energy sources.

Rashay Layman, organizing representative with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Ohio, said people will be “breathing easier” because of GenOn’s decision.

“The plant closures are definitely positive for Ohio in terms of public health,” she said, adding that coal is expensive in terms of medical bills caused by pollution.

Layman stressed the company must work with the community and shareholders to assure that the closures won’t lead to unemployment of its workers.

Clovis A. Linkous, professor of chemistry at Youngstown State University, said coal plants have ways to transition to cleaner emissions, but such endeavors are costly. Linkous is on YSU’s Environmental Sustainability Committee and said that until more cost- effective solutions are created, coal plants will continue to operate in the United States.

Layman said, however, the plant retirements are a sign of the future of energy production.

“I think that the plant closures are really reflective of a national trend, not just in Ohio,” she said. “Coal’s natural life cycle as a main energy source is on its way out.”


Comments

1ytownsteelman(626 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

If coal as an energy source is "on its way out", then this nation is as stupid as it appears. Coal is the most abundant source of energy that we have available to us, is not subject to political tension and is ideal for use in making electricity.

A century ago everything in the US was coal powered, from your home heating furnace to the factory you worked at to the trains that hauled you and your factory's production. We lived through that period of breathing coal smoke on a daily basis. Coal is not as bad as the environmentalists say. Note that only 179 premature deaths will be spared. What exactly does that mean anyways? Where is the analysis of the negative economic impact of the plant closures from not only the plant workers but the railroad crews, local suppliers, coal miners and the potential brown outs from not having this peaking capacity.

This is a bad decision, and once again the environmentalists have scored a victory against the best interests of the American people.

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2walter_sobchak(1831 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

I see that the Clean Air Task Force makes no mention about what this will do to the price of electricity or the loss jobs at the plants. The claimed health benefits are specious also. Decades ago, everyone heated their houses with inefficient coal furnaces that produced far more pollution than the current plants do now. The average regulatory cost burden for a typical US manufacturing firm is $688,944 and Barry Soetoro's Administration keeps piling on the regulations. Why would any company want to keep its business on US soil?

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3VINDYAK(1799 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

This administration will go down as the most pro-active Green Energy administation in our history. Led by Obama, their policy is to force Americans to convert at all costs. Unfortunately, all these electric cars being forced upon us will have no place to plug into and no power plants to supply them with the energy they need. If everyone went out and bought a Volt or a Prius, we would overwhelm our dwindling energy grid.

Our energy needs are being compromised, as our supply is dwindling and we are being forced to spend much more of our income to maintain our standard of living (which is falling).

The correct way to do this is over a longer period of time and allow time proven technology to advance us, rather than forcing us to accept suspect technology for the sake of political ideaology.

This is going to cost all of us dearly and we are being set up to accept it whether we like it or not.

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4300(553 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

This is actually a great development for the natural gas industry. Not only that, but when natural gas is used instead of coal everyone wins except for the very small handful of large coal companies and a few thousand coal miners.

The winners will be all the landowners in the area (a good 100,000 or so), the steel industry (which would replace, roughly, any miner job losses), the natural gas industry (several 1000 jobs), and the environment (coal is the dirtiest form of fuel, and there's no such thing as "clean coal").

Really, almost everyone should be cheering this development. As a landowner and air-breather, I know that I am.

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5Photoman(989 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

We do not know how many lives will be saved by moving from the coal fired plants, these are merely estimates given by those "Greenies". We do, however, know how many jobs will be lost and not replaced in our state. Tell those families involved just how wonderful this transition is.

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6300(553 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Photoman, how many coal miner do you know? How many landowners or steel workers do you know?

That should make this development clearer for you to understand.

I feel bad for some of the West Virginia, and to an extant Ohio, families who may well be put out of work. But, far more people stand to gain from this than those who stand to lose. Not to mention, I'd love to see Massey and others put out of business.

None the less, I live in the Mahoning Valley. I own land. I recently signed some of my landholdings with Chesapeake, and I'm thrilled to see new business coming to Youngstown. Running these plants on natural gas benefits everyone around here.

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7newsmaker1(127 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Coal is a tremendous asset, providing low-cost energy for our important manufacturing base. China will buy all the the coal we can sell, needed for their manufacturing base... The Chinese and the world are laughing at this non-functional administration.

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8300(553 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

If I may borrow a GOP idea for a moment....you only have yourself to blame if you're not rich, redeye. It's a ridiculous idea, but I've heard it numerous times by Conservatives.

It's not just me who stands to make a fair bit from drilling, but tens of thousands of solidly working-class landowners. The fact that this might piss-off an irrational Conservative like redeye, just puts the cherry on the cupcake for me.

But, let me get this straight. Redeye, you're a Conservative, but you're not a landowner, and you're not wealthy? Why do you vote Republican? I thank you for doing so, as their policies do benefit my family (even if I can't stomach actually voting for any GOP).

Natural gas can be just as cost efficient as coal, and at just a tiny fraction of the pollution. Not to mention all the business Utica drilling is creating in Youngstown.

It'll be interesting to watch the natural gas lobby fight against the coal lobby, since they're competitors in this situation.

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