WAYNESBURG – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, said Friday she questions the timing and motives behind the planned closings of Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Monongahela Township, Greene County, and Mitchell Power Station in Washington County.
“It’s too easy to blame environmental regulations for the shutdowns and then just walk away,” said Snyder, who participated in a rally near Hatfield’s Ferry plant Wednesday to protest the closings, projected by Oct. 9, by FirstEnergy Corp. “Far more is at stake – especially the hundreds of local jobs – than just the $15 billion bottom line of a Fortune 500 company.”
Snyder said objective analysis must be given for the decision to shut down the plants and include factors such as the contract negotiations with the utility workers union, the closures’ effect on ratepayers and the reliability of the regional power grid.
“It irritates me greatly that I was asked as a former Greene County commissioner to sign off on funding for new scrubbers at the Hatfield plant,” Snyder said. “Ratepayers are still paying for those improvements, which were made to ensure the long-term viability of the plant.
“We were long-suffering neighbors to what had been one of the dirtiest power plants,” Snyder said. “Now, it’s one of cleanest and most efficient plants, and it makes no sense to close it.”
Snyder said that when FirstEnergy shut down coal-fired plants in Ohio, PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission operator, indicated that the closings would affect reliability.
“PJM will have to sign off on the local plant closings,” said Snyder, who has launched a letter-writing campaign to federal lawmakers, state regulators and others about the closings. “The experts should take a hard look at the repercussions of removing 10 percent of the utility’s supply from the grid.”
Snyder said larger ramifications also must be considered.
“Only the foolhardy think that natural gas prices are going to remain this low forever,” Snyder said. “Coal is abundant, cheap and can be used cleanly with the investments that ratepayers have made.
“It would be very wasteful to ask ratepayers 10 years from now to reinvest in coal just because the luster has worn off natural gas,” Snyder said. “Coal should remain an integral part of any balanced energy policy.”