Operators of Pennsylvania’s largest coal-fired power generation complex, the Homer City Generating Station in Center Township, Indiana County, said Monday they could wind down operations by May 2023. , in part due to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
However, in a press release issued by Homer City Generation LP, the group that has owned the station since April 2017, its management said there would be no immediate impact on the station’s 129 employees.
“We are proud of the investments we have made in the Homer City Power Plant and the work of our talented team of employees,” said William Wexler, President and CEO of Homer City Generation.
Specifically, Homer City Generation LP said it may decide by April 4 to remove certain operations from a capacity auction that PJM Interconnection LLC will conduct.
Homer City Generation LP operates three generating units – two which started in 1969 and a third which was added in 1977 – and produces 1,884 megawatts of electricity fed into the PJM regional transmission grid.
PJM, which covers Pennsylvania as well as all or parts of 12 other states and the District of Columbia, is hosting the auction to acquire power resources for the 2023-24 delivery year.
Homer City Generation officials said the company requested an exception to the mandatory bid requirement for certain units.
They said all deactivated units would be removed from service in May 2023.
In its statement, Homer City Generation LP said any downgrade decision would be based on a number of factors, including:
• Continuous operational performance
• The ability to support one or two unit operation
• Ongoing maintenance and operating costs
• Forward prices of electricity and coal
• Availability of coal supply
• Regulatory uncertainties
These include “those arising from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s potential entry into” RGGI, a regional pact to cap and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector.
“The current Homer City ownership group secured the installation of its second bankruptcy reorganization in 2017, but even before then – and long before RGGI was proposed – there were discussions regarding its financial ability to continue. its activities as market forces for coal. -Combustion generators are tough,” Governor Tom Wolf’s press secretary Elizabeth Rementer said.
“That said,” Rementer continued, “the Governor’s plan to participate in the RGGI, as set out in two identical pieces of legislation, House Bill 1565 and Senate Bill 15, would support workers impacted by facility closures – facilities that closed without RGGI in place.”
HB 1565, sponsored by Rep. Dianne Herrin, and SB 15, sponsored by Carolyn T. Comitta, both D-Chester, would amend the state’s Air Pollution Control Act of 1960 to provide “the use of auction proceeds from the CO2 Budget Trading Program, for the Clean Air Fund accounts, for the Energy Communities Trust Fund and for the Environmental Justice Communities Trust Fund.
Herrin’s bill has 23 co-sponsors, Comitta 12, all Democrats. The two remain on the environmental resources and energy committees of the respective legislative chambers.
On the other hand, Wolf has repeatedly vetoed Republican legislation that would restrict or dismiss RGGI. Most recently, in January, it was a joint legislative resolution that rejected a state Environmental Quality Council settlement for Pennsylvania to join the RGGI.
Rementer also drew attention to a petition filed February 3 in Commonwealth Court by the Secretary of the Department of State for Environmental Protection, Patrick J. McDonnell, in this role and his position as chairman of the ‘EQB, calling the officials of the Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau and the Pennsylvania Code and Bulletin. to “fulfill their mandatory, non-discretionary duty to issue final form regulations duly promulgated by EQB” that would implement Pennsylvania’s entry into RGGI.
RGGI now includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has signed an executive order to begin the process of withdrawing that Commonwealth from RGGI, while in North Carolina the process is underway and could bring that state into the pact.
“We look forward to engaging with the local community on alternative uses, including but not limited to the installation of renewable energy generation capacity, given the significant amount of infrastructure located on the site. website,” Wexler said. “Our community has benefited from the economic engine that is Homer City’s power plant for more than 50 years,” said Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana.
“Operations of the facility have evolved over time and I am confident there is an opportunity for continued productive economic use of the site beyond May 2023.”
Pittman acknowledged that such use may be an open question, but also said the regulatory hurdles and taxes proposed by RGGI make future use opportunities very difficult to explore. A spokesperson for Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, or PennFuture, said Homer City was the only major coal-fired power plant in Pennsylvania that hadn’t announced plans to retire or convert to fractured gas. competitive energy market where polluted coal-fired units built in the 1960s simply cannot compete,” said Rob Altenburg, PennFuture’s senior director for energy and climate. “This industry shift has been underway since long before Pennsylvania considered joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but RGGI is part of the solution. Not only does it force polluters to pay for damage they cause, but it also generates revenue that can be invested in helping workers and communities affected by the failure of fossil fuel industries.Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, whose legislative district includes the Homer City station, called the development bad news.
“It highlights why we fought to keep Pennsylvania out (into RGGI),” Struzzi said.
“We will work with the powerhouse to minimize impacts and hope for the best outcome for our county.” Similarly, Pittman said, “I remain committed to working with my fellow elected officials, the current plant ownership team and all potentially affected employees to determine the highest and best economic use of the power plant at Homer City beyond May 2023.”
Homer City’s announcement follows a stricter set of wastewater guidelines released last fall by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
This requires power plants to clean coal ash and toxic heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and selenium from factory wastewater before it is discharged into streams and rivers.
In west-central Pennsylvania, Keystone Power Plant in Plumcreek Township, Armstrong County, and Conemaugh Power Plant in West Wheatfield Township, said they would stop using coal and would withdraw all their production units by December 31, 2028, in accordance with the regulations. opinions obtained separately by The Associated Press.
However, Homer City Generation LP told state regulators it plans to continue operating and meet new sewage limits.