George, Commissioners Respond to Shawville Power Plant News

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Houtzdale, said that he lamented the announcement today from GenOn Energy that the Shawville power plant will be deactivated come April 2015.

“Certainly, the Shawville plant poses environmental and health risks that must be addressed,” George said. “However, prudent policies could and should have been pursued that would have spared this proven job and power provider.

“Pragmatic energy policies should not guillotine coal from the nation’s energy grid,” George said. “Unfortunately, reasonable policies that would address valid health concerns while keeping coal and the Shawville plant in the long-term mix for energy viability were not pursued.”

George said the notification he received from the Houston-based GenOn noted that the “deactivation is being driven by the costs of complying with upcoming environmental regulations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.”

According to a GenOn news release, “The coal-fired units at Shawville, which is leased, will be placed in long-term protective layup. The required lease payments will continue to be made and the assets will be maintained in accordance with the lease.”

George said a GenOn official described Shawville’s situation as a “glide path” toward the April 2015 deactivation. George said the GenOn official said the plant probably will be operated “pretty much as is” although there “might be some ups and downs” before the plant is deactivated in 37 months.

“The Shawville plant has provided jobs and power – almost 600 megawatts annually to the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland power grid – for more than 55 years,” George said. “The deactivation will affect plant and coal jobs, as well as supporting industries, throughout the region.”

According to the GenOn official, Shawville has about 80 employees at the Bradford Township plant and contributes roughly $225,000 annually in local taxes.

“From a deregulation scheme that gave more than $12 billion in ratepayers’ money to utilities to run off and buy power plants in Montana or Brazil to knee-jerk reactions to coal as an energy resource, no one can tell me that we don’t have the know-how and money to make Shawville a state-of-the-art plant,” George said.

The Shawville plant is one of eight plants, including four others in Pennsylvania, cited for deactivation by GenOn. The eight plants produce a total of 3,140 megawatts of power.

The other affected Pennsylvania plants are Elrama, Washington County (460 megawatts), Portland, Northampton County (401 megawatts), New Castle, Lawrence County (330 megawatts), and Titus, Berks County (243 megawatts).

Commissioner Mark McCracken released the following statement regarding the recent news involving the Shawville Power Plant:
Early this morning, the Clearfield County Commissioners were emailed by GenOn an advanced copy of a press release the company was releasing later in the day to the public. The release included a list of several power plants that are scheduled for deactivation / closure between June of 2012 and April 2015 and included the Shawville plant with a deactivation / closure date of April 2015.
Since receiving the email, the commissioners have been on conference calls with representatives from the offices of Senator Pat Toomey, Senator Robert Casey and Congressman Glenn Thompson. The commissioners have also scheduled a meeting tomorrow with officials from GenOn that will be attended by representatives from Congressman Thompson’s office.
This is devastating news for Clearfield County that impacts not only the 80 plus workers at the Shawville plant but also has a huge ripple effect that will have a negative impact on many local and regional businesses. The Shawville plant alone has an annual impact on the regional economy of several $100 million per year. While the GenOn announcement was bad news, we are getting our federal officials involved in the hopes that a solution can be found before 2015 to keep the plant in operation.
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4 thoughts on “George, Commissioners Respond to Shawville Power Plant News

  1. charlie61451

    If anyone has ever doubted the existence of trickle-down economics, here is proof that it exists. Not only will 80 jobs be lost at the power plant itself, but there will be trucking jobs affected by the shutdown, and most notably, the jobs that will be affected in the coal industry. Our area thrives on coal, and the Obama administration seems to think that this nation can survive without coal. Perhaps the nation can, but I’m willing to wager that there are several hundred families that cannot. When you look back at this area’s economy and heritage, there were several industries that built our area; coal, lumber, leather tanning, refractories, and quarries. How many of them are left, and how many residents have left the area because of it? The fact that we live in fly-over country makes us far less significant than we would be if we lived in a huge metropolitan area, but I for one wouldn’t live anywhere else. Granted, there have been health problems that have been associated with the Shawville plant, and they rightly should be addressed. But to say that the plant will be closed without considering how it will affect the local economy is not the answer. I did notice that Senator Casey has weighed in on the mattter, probably because he’s running for re-election this year. This is the first I’ve heard anything from his office relating to our area since he was elected 6 years ago. I’ve contacted his office 4 times since his election, and received nothing more than a voice mail message that there was no one there to take my call, and that I should leave a message. I never got a reply to any of them.

  2. papasheetz

    This whole thing is awful. My family is directly affected by this because my husband has worked at Shawville for over 10 years. We have 3 children, a new home, and family here. We actually moved away when we were first married, only to come “home” to raise our children in the community we both loved and to be surrounded by family and friends. Shawville provides so many families a steady and comfortable income and i used to be able to say STABLE. This will also affect the local coal industry and all those families as well. I agree with the person who said, “too little, too late”. I’m afraid our “federal officials” should have stepped in w/all these “ideas” way earlier to find a solution to keep Shawville operating at full capacity!! 2015 will be here before we know it! So many people are having to start looking elsewhere, perhaps even leaving the area, to be able to make a family-sustaining wage. We need the support of any and all those involved to do whatever they can to maintain Shawville and keep the 80+ people employed there WITH a JOB!!

  3. Dieselrider

    One thing that Mr. George “conveniently” fails to point out in his statement that his Democratic leader in Washington had made this very point a campaign promise while running for office, that we would get away from using coal. The tree huggers that tend to back democrats for office over republicans are behind getting rid of the use of “dirty old coal” in this country. Both Democrats and environmental groups have pushed for regulations over the years that have strangled businesses in all areas from being able to compete or operate profitably (especially those that use coal) and then cry foul when they close their doors and take their jobs elsewhere.

    There comes a point in any for profit business that over regulation by the government makes continuing to operate fiscally and reasonably unwise and it becomes necessary to give up and go somewhere else or just close the doors for good. We have seen it happen in Clearfield County so many times during Mr. Georges’ tenure that we really should be used to it by now. Yes it still hurts but, until we have someone that truly represents us and not his own interests this will not differ for the better.

    This is the kind of “change and hope” that Mr. Obama promised in his campaign and that Mr. George supports with his own political rhetoric. Let’s face it, even if everyone in central PA loses their job, Mr. George will still get paid.

  4. dwalker

    Too little too late. This plant, which has sustained the region for years with quality power generation and family sustaining jobs, has fallen victim to bad government policy. Camille George will continue to blame others, and Mark McCracken will continue to think Ethanol is the answer, as he is quoted as saying in prior press releases. Meeting with government officials won’t help gentleman, unless you tell them to get out of the way. Did both George and McCracken vote for Obama?

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