FirstEnergy to Close 3 Nuclear Power Plants

FirstEnergy to Close 3 Nuclear Power Plants

AKRON, Ohio — FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., says it will deactivate its Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants in Ohio and Beaver Valley Power Station in Pennsylvania over the next three years.

The company notified PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization, of its decision Wednesday. Plant closures are subject to review by PJM for reliability impacts, if any.

In the interim, the plants will continue normal operations, the company said, as its seeks legislative policy solutions as an alternative to deactivation or sale.

Davis-Besse, in Oak Harbor, will close in 2020, FirstEnergy said; Beaver Valley in Shippingport, Pa., in 2021, and the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Perry, Ohio, in 2021.

    The total capacity of the nuclear plants to be deactivated is 4,048 megawatts.  In 2017, the nuclear units contributed approximately 655 of the electricity produced by the FES generating fleet.

    “The decision to deactivate these facilities is very difficult and in no way a reflection on the dedicated, hard-working employees who operate the plants safely and reliably or on the local communities and union leaders who have advocated passionately on their behalf,” said Don Moul, president of FES Generation Companies and chief nuclear officer, said in a prepared statement. “Though the plants have taken aggressive measures to cut costs, the market challenges facing these units are beyond their control.

    “We call on elected officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania to consider policy solutions that would recognize the importance of these facilities to the employees and local economies in which they operate, and the unique role they play in providing reliable, zero-emission electric power for consumers in both states. We stand ready to roll-up our sleeves and work with policy makers to find solutions that will make it feasible to continue to operate these plants in the future.”

    Collectively, the plants have contributed more than $540 million in taxes throughout their operation to support local communities, FirstEnergy said.  The company continues to work toward legislative solutions to keep these plants operating, but will also look for potential buyers as another alternative.  About 2,300 plant employees are expected to be affected by the ultimate deactivations.

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (has been verbally notified of the deactivations, and a required written notification will be made to the agency within 30 days.  In addition, notifications were made to the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and Nuclear Energy Institute, organizations that support the U.S. nuclear industry.

    The two-year-plus lead time is needed to make the complex preparations for a potential plant deactivation, including preparing a detailed decommissioning plan and working with the NRC to amend plant licenses.

    In November 2016, FES parent FirstEnergy Corp. announced that it would exit competitive, or non-regulated, generation due to weak power prices, insufficient results from recent capacity auctions, and weak demand forecasts.  A strategic review of FES’s two remaining coal plants and one natural gas plant, totaling 5,245 MW, will continue as part of that plan, the company said. 

    Pictured at top: Davis-Besse plant.

    SOURCE: FirstEnergy Solutions.

    Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.