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Power Plant In Shippingport Could See Temporary Shut Down

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The battle lines have been drawn over coal, and the carbon emissions at coal-fired power plants like the one in Homer City have become the focus.

Miners and power plant workers say their jobs are at stake.

"The emissions," said one worker. "They are trying to shut down power plants and we're marching to try to keep our jobs."

Power plants are being shuttered across the country. And now our largest, FirstEnergy's Bruce Mansfield Plant in Shippingport, Beaver County, may have to power down, at least temporarily.

The proposed price of their electricity proved too high at auction, while America's appetite for electricity has fallen.

"There's too much supply and not enough demand at the moment. It's pretty basic," said Myron Arnowitt, of Clean Water Action.

The cost of producing electricity at these plants has gone up in large part due to increased regulation.

FirstEnergy is under order to clean up Little Blue, its sprawling coal ash impoundment.

The utility also says it may suspend the construction of a $200 million dewatering plant for coal ash sludge. They may need to temporarily reassign their 360 workers if a powering down is needed.

Still, FirstEnergy says it is not considering a permanent shutdown of the plant at this time. Even if some environmentalist might eventually welcome such a move, saying the government should retrain workers for clean energy jobs.

"Coal is a very dirty power source," said Arnowitt. "It's caused a lot of problems, health problems for our region. We would like to see coal phased out and replaced with a clean energy source."

FirstEnergy will be taking its electricity to market and is hopeful of a better outcome, but there's no doubt that the future for coal-fired power plants is becoming tougher.

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