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Bruce Mansfield coal plant to close 19 months early, officials say

Beaver County Times

Aug. 10--SHIPPINGPORT -- Pennsylvania's largest coal-fired power plant is set to close nearly two years earlier than expected.

FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. announced plans to deactivate and close Shippingport's Bruce Mansfield plant in November, citing "a lack of economic viability" in a Friday statement.

Company officials previously planned to shutter the power plant's Unit 3 in June 2021; Units 1 and 2 were deactivated in February after a fire that damaged plant equipment.

Owners have long struggled to compete with natural gas and renewables in the region, prompting industry supporters including President Donald Trump to champion FirstEnergy. Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy Department proposed an ultimately-rejected plan to pay coal generators more for stockpiling fuel on site.

FirstEnergy Solutions filed for bankruptcy in 2018, cratered by its unprofitable nuclear and coal power plants. The company's reorganization plan is scheduled to be heard by a bankruptcy judge this month.

Bruce Mansfield has been generating power in Beaver County since 1976. Company officials say the deactivation process will be complete by May 2020.

"The deactivation will be safely and responsibly conducted in accordance with relevant regulations and guidelines," officials said in a statement. "By November, the workforce will be reduced to a level required to complete deactivation activities. In all cases, the company will comply with its collective bargaining agreement, including severance as applicable, and have already initiated discussions with union leadership."

The company's Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station is still slated to close in 2021 for financial reasons. Unless Pennsylvania lawmakers consider new nuclear subsidies -- similar to recent changes in Ohio -- a company spokesperson said it's likely the plant will close according to plan.

Beaver County could see a sizable economic hit with the closure of both plants. FirstEnergy is one of the county's largest taxpayers with millions in assessed property. It puts hundreds of high-paid union employees at risk, too. Last year, FirstEnergy Solutions employed about 250 workers at the Bruce Mansfield plant alone.

In response to the news, state Sen. Elder Vogel Jr., R-47, New Sewickley Township, implored lawmakers to assist displaced workers and help fill the expected economic void.

"The closure of what was once Pennsylvania's largest coal-fired electric generation facility will have a major negative impact not only in Shippingport, but throughout Beaver County," he said. "The loss of those jobs and the impact on those families is heartbreaking. As we work together as a community through this difficult time, my office stands ready to help those affected by this closure."


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Sid Abma's picture
Sid Abma on Aug 16, 2019 11:57 pm GMT

If this plant were to apply CCU and be removing over 90% of it's CO2, it would be operating emitting less CO2 than a natural gas power plant. Could it then continue to operate?

This is the CCU System.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 20, 2019 3:31 pm GMT

Sid, Carbon Capture and Utilitization (CCU) is a euphemism for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), and is a term invented by the American Petroleum Institute to make the process more palatable to environmentalists.

With EOR/CCU, CO2 is captured from coal emissions and injected into oil wells to make the job of oil extraction easier and more profitable than it already is. In environmental terms, it's one step forward, two back.

Sid Abma's picture
Sid Abma on Aug 20, 2019 8:05 pm GMT

Hi Bob

I take it you did not watch our YouTube video

There is a difference between CCS (sequestration) and CCU (utilization) We transform the CO2 into useful saleable products. No pipelines involved. We take no steam from the power plant to "strip" the CO2 and we consume only a minimal amount of energy. We want the power plants to remain profitable, creating and selling electricity, and have coal power plants operating and putting into the atmosphere less CO2 than a natural gas power plant.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 21, 2019 6:45 pm GMT

Sid, two of the useful saleable products you're creating ("biofuel" and "biofertilizer") will soon decompose or be burned, releasing CO or CO2 to the atmosphere. All of it includes carbon which, in coal form, has been sequestered for millions of years underground. Increased fossil carbon in the atmosphere is quickly returning climate to the time of the dinosaurs - when temperatures were up to 20°C warmer than they are now.

Calcium carbonate can effectively sequester carbon indefinitely, but is the least saleable of all the products you're manufacturing. For these reasons there is no "clean coal", or any other extracted fossil fuel.

Sid Abma's picture
Sid Abma on Aug 22, 2019 6:19 pm GMT

The bio fertilizer will put it's nutrients back into the soil. The Bio-Fuel can be combusted carbon neutral because it was produced from plant matter. How much carbon do you estimate it takes to produce and transport install these solar facilities and wind farms. And then all the maintenance. and then replace them after their 15 or 20 year life cycle. I hear they don't plan to remove them when they no longer produce, because it's too expensive.

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