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Environment


FirstEnergy reconsiders shutting down Eastlake plant
Plant would use natural gas or oil instead of coal
Story by LAURA FONG AND M.L. SCHULTZE


 
In The Region:

FirstEnergy make keep its Eastlake power plant going after all. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the utility reconsidering a decision it made last month that it said was dictated by the new clean air standards.

Potential plans for Eastlake

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Akron-based First Enegy announced last month that it would shut down four coal-burning plants in Ohio.

But now it says it may keep one of those running – the Eastlake plant near Cleveland -- by replacing its coal burners with combustion turbines that run on natural gas or oil.

After FirstEnergy first announced it planned to shut down the plants, the nonprofit that operates the high-voltage grid that divides power among 13 states raised concerns about the grid’s stability of the grid. It set out to do a feasibility study.

And First Energy spokesman Mark Durbin says PJM’s study is still in progress.

 “They identified some potential reliability impacts and what today’s announcement does is we’re looking to install 800 megawatts of combustion turbine generation to mitigate some of those reliability concerns, so this is the first step in that process.”
 
Durbin says PJM may want some other upgrades as well.

“It could include some additional transmission lines that might ask us to build. It’s something that this announcement  as far as the additional megawatts, that was a first step because  that tells PJM instead of not having generation up in Northern Ohio, there will be 800 megawatts of new generation that will meet all the new environmental rules that have been set up.”

Durbin expects PJM will have its study done by late April. The plant would operate – as the coal one does now – only during peak periods such as Northeast Ohio’s humid summer days.  

State regulators also have raised concerns that the planned shutdown could hike electric bills. 
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