Akron-based FirstEnergy plans to close two coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania rather than install 270 million dollars worth of pollution control equipment to meet tougher federal mercury emission standards.
Jim Letizia reports.
The company says the closure will cost 380 jobs. Last year, the company announced plans to close six other plants. It also blamed new emissions standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mercury is a neurotoxin known to cause brain damage, especially in young children. The agency is also drafting carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. Final regulations are expected to be in place by mid 2015. A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council contradicts the argument by the coal industry that the new rules will damage the economy. Spokesperson Dan Lashoff says in eight years, new regulations and the demand for new pollution control technology will add more than 200-thousand jobs, and trim nearly a dollar from the average homeowner's electricity bill. Terry Gardiner with the non-profit organization called the Small Business Majority says her group's polling shows more than half of small business owners support carbon regulations, and two-thirds favor setting clean air rules for existing power plants. Many economists expect coal-producing states such as Ohio will see some pain. But they say it will be eased when power companies shift to using natural gas, including FirstEnergy and Columbus-based American Electric power.