FirstEnergy to close Beaver Valley plant in 2021

The Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant in nearby Shippingport, Pa., will close in three years, according to a news release issued Wednesday by FirstEnergy Solutions.

The company says it plans to close the Beaver Valley facility in 2021. The plant has 800 employees.

Also scheduled to closed are two FirstEnergy nuclear power plants in Ohio — Davis-Besse in Oak Harbor and Perry in Perry, which are to close in 2020 and 2021 respectively. These plants produce 14 percent of the state’s electricity.

FirstEnergy informed the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its decision along with PJM Interconnection, the regional electricity grid manager,

A Lake County commissioner was quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer as saying he expects FirstEnergy to file for bankruptcy protection on Friday. The Perry plant is located in Lake County.

The news does not comes as a surprise because FirstEnergy has been threatening to close the plants for several years because it says it cannot compete with cheaper power sources, such as natural gas. The company owes $2.8 billion to creditors and another $1.7 billion to its parent company, FirstEnergy Corp. FirstEnergy Solutions is also facing a April 2 deadline for payment of a $100 million debt principal payment that is due.

“The decision to deactivate these facilities is very difficult and in no way a reflection of the dedicated, hard-working employees who operate the plants safely and reliably …,” said Don Moul, president of FirstEnergy Solutions, in a news release. “Though the plants have taken aggressive measures to cut costs, the market challenges facing these units are beyond their control.”

FirstEnergy has been seeking regulatory relief from state legislatures but to no avail. Moul called on elected officials in both states “to consider policy solutions that would recognize the importance of these facilities to the employees and local economies in which they operate, and the unique role they play in providing reliable, zero-emission electric power to consumers in both states. We stand ready to roll up our sleeves and work with policy makers to find a solutions that will make it feasible to continue to operate these plants in the future.”

The news release stated a two-year lead time is needed to prepare for the “potential” plant deactivation and develop a detailed decommissioning plan that meets with the NRC approval.