FirstEnergy hardest hit by closures in '13: report

THE data is in and the news is not positive. FirstEnergy, Duke Energy and Southern Company were the utilities hardest hit by coal plant closures over 2013, according to a new report.

Donna Schmidt

SNL Financial, citing its own data, said late last week that a total of 28,000MW of coal-fired generating capacity were formally being cut from the portfolios of electricity generators nationwide via permanent retirements and conversions.

All US complexes must either make changes to comply with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) laws by 2015, which has led to a huge wave of moves by utilities large and small.

SNL said that, surprisingly, 2013 saw about 6000MW of coal capacity permanently sliced via permanent retirements, down 34% from 8800MW in 2012.

Taking the most hits, the group said, from a megawatt perspective is FirstEnergy, which is cutting about 2000MW in total. Its closures include the Hatfield's Ferry Power Station and Mitchell Power Station, both due to high costs of compliance, and about 380 workers were impacted.

Taking second on the list is Duke Energy, which has taken a total of 1342MW in cuts from its portfolio with the retirement of three of its facilities in North Carolina.

Of those, the largest was the Buck Steam Station in Rowan County, a 256MW complex that came online in 1926 and had been known as Duke's first large-scale power plant.

Finally, SNL determined, Southern Company produced about 500MW from its two units at the Harllee Branch plant, part of its Georgia Power subsidiary.

GP is undergoing a significant shift to nuclear power as well as advanced coal technology, natural gas and renewables.