“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).