Avon Lake coal-fired power plant to close

AVON LAKE, Ohio — The Avon Lake Generating Station, a 100-year-old coal plant along Lake Erie, will be shutting down in September along with other plants in Pennsylvania and Maryland. 

The city of Avon Lake said in a press release Wednesday the employees who work there will lose their jobs. Ohio Means Jobs Lorain County will work with the city to help the workers through the transition.

Houston-based GenOn Holdings LLC, the owner of the Avon Lake coal plant, said it will also shut down a generating unit Cheswick station on the Allegheny River outside Pittsburgh by Sept. 15, as well as two generating units at the much larger Morgantown station on Maryland’s Cobb Neck peninsula by next June 1.

Combined, the four coal-fired units can provide up to 2,421 megawatts.

In a statement, GenOn blamed “unfavorable economic conditions, higher costs including those associated with environmental compliance, an inability to compete with other generation types and evolving market rules that promote subsidized resources.”

Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka said that the plant is used fewer than 50 days a year. He said he is “excited” with plans to redevelop the land.

“The overall plan is to open up the plant’s lakefront property for redevelopment that will include public access and recreational use, by closing the coal-fired plant, then remediating and demolishing it over the next two to three years. We are at the first step in the plan, which is the closing of the plant,” Zilka said. 

“The second step of the plan, remediation and demolition of the site, is the responsibility of GenOn’s successor. We will be applying for brownfield grants to assist in this endeavor financially. This is a huge step towards cleaning up our environment, and we are proud to be a part of the process,” Zilka added.

Zilka said that there could be a temporary drop in tax revenue related to the plant’s closure. The mayor expects the city will soon be able to make up those funds. 

“Any short-term impact on our homeowners, businesses and schools will be lessened by the new housing and business development that continues to and is currently occurring throughout our city,” Zilka said.

Coal power has fallen out of favor in the climate change era amid a push for cleaner power sources that produce less pollution and greenhouse gases. U.S. coal production has been in steady decline, down by about one-third over the past decade.

Coal also has been buffeted by a flood of cheaper natural gas from shale formations, including the vast Marcellus Shale reservoir underneath Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

Shutdown of the units is subject to a 90-day reliability review period by the regional electric grid operator PJM, GenOn said.

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