Electricity Markets

FirstEnergy to deactivate plants in PJM totaling 4,017 MW

FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. on Aug. 29 notified the PJM Interconnection of its plans to deactivate four fossil-fuel generating plants in 2021 and 2022. The plants represent a total of 4,017 megawatts of generating capacity.

FES said it is closing the plants “due to a market environment that fails to adequately compensate generators for the resiliency and fuel-security attributes that the plants provide.”

The specific plants and their deactivation schedule are as follows: Eastlake 6, Eastlake, Ohio (24 MW, coal), June 1, 2021; Bruce Mansfield Units 1-3, Shippingport, Pa. (2,490 MW, coal), June 1, 2021; W.H. Sammis Diesel, Stratton, Ohio (13 MW, diesel oil), June 1, 2021; W.H. Sammis Units 5-7, Stratton, Ohio (1,490 MW, coal), June 1, 2022.

In the interim, the plants will continue normal operations, FES said.

FES noted that plant closures are subject to review by PJM. If PJM determines that one or more of these units may be needed for grid reliability purposes, FES said it will provide information and estimates of the costs and timing to keep some or all of the units open.

FES also seeks exemption from must-offer rules

Also on Aug. 29, FES filed requests for exemption from PJM's must-offer rules both for the fossil-fired plants and for FES's three nuclear generating plants, whose planned deactivations were announced March 28, 2018. PJM has said in a study that it did not expect the nuclear power plant deactivations to adversely affect the reliability of PJM’s transmission system.

Under the must-offer rules, generating companies in the PJM region are required to make their plants' capacity available to the grid in regular capacity auctions unless granted an exception. The annual auctions are held to secure capacity three years in advance. FES is seeking exemptions from auctions covering the 2022-23 delivery year and beyond.

"As with nuclear, our fossil-fueled plants face the insurmountable challenge of a market that does not sufficiently value their contribution to the security and flexibility of our power system," said Don Moul, President of FES Generation Companies and Chief Nuclear Officer, in a news release. "The market fails to recognize, for example, the on-site fuel storage capability of coal, which increases the resilience of the grid."

The FES nuclear plants and their deactivation dates are: Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Oak Harbor, Ohio (908 MW), May 2020; Beaver Valley Power Station, Shippingport, Penn., Unit 1 (939 MW) May 2021 and Unit 2 (933 MW) October 2021; Perry Nuclear Power Plant, Perry, Ohio (1,281 MW), May 2021.

Trump directs DOE to intervene on coal, nuclear generation

In late March, FES asked Energy Secretary Rick Perry to issue an emergency order directing PJM to immediately begin negotiations to secure the long-term capacity of certain nuclear and coal-fired plants in the region and to compensate their owners "for the full benefits they provide to energy markets and the public at large, including fuel security and diversity." The American Public Power Association urged the DOE to reject the request.

President Donald Trump on June 1 directed Perry to take steps aimed at keeping “fuel-secure” power facilities -- coal-fired generation and nuclear power plants -- operational.

“Depending on the timing of any federal policy action, deactivation decisions could be reversed or postponed,” FES said in the Aug. 29 news release.