FirstEnergy cuts usage of plant

Staff report


The economic slowdown and low costs for energy have led FirstEnergy to shift its largest power plant in Ohio from operating constantly to only functioning to meet peak demands.

The W.H. Sammis power plant in Stratton in Jefferson County, just south of East Liverpool, could be reopened within three days if needed, said Mark Durbin, spokesman for FirstEnergy.

The change was made because the plant was no longer making money, he said. The coal plant, which has been renovated to meet all environmental standards, simply could not compete with the lower expense electricity generated by natural gas plants.

“Demand hasn’t picked up,” Durbin said. “If we could bid out the power at a cost where we could recover our costs, the plant could restart. We don’t anticipate that happening any time soon.”

FirstEnergy also is considering making its Hatfield’s Ferry plant at Masontown, Pa., on the Monongahela River operate using both coal and natural gas, Durbin said. The site currently is a coal power plant.

“For it to be economically feasible the cost of natural gas would have to stay between $2 and $3 per mcf,” he said.

If converted, the site would generate 25 to 40 percent of its power using natural gas with the remainder coming from coal, Durbin said.

It is early in the decision-making process and something that is being considered, he said. No decision is likely until 2014.

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