Cheswick Generating Station, located just outside of Pittsburgh, will close in September, according to its owner, GenOn Holdings, LLC. Commissioned in 1970, the 565-megawatt plant can no longer compete in today’s electricity marketplace and under current environmental rules, the Houston-based GenOn said in a statement.
“The decision to initiate the retirement of these coal units is driven by 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,” the company’s statement said.
Cheswick is one of three coal closures the company announced, including a plant in Avon Lake, Ohio and two units at its Morgantown Generating Station in Newburg, Maryland.
Cheswick, which ranks in the top 10 single sources in Allegheny County for several types of air pollution, has faced several environmental legal challenges recently. The Sierra Club brought legal action in 2019 against the company for releasing hot water into the Allegheny River. The Sierra Club also sued the plant in 2018 for turning off its pollution controls at certain times of day. Last year, a federal court overturned the “gaping loophole” in state pollution rules that allowed the plant to do so.
The company said it had applied to PJM Interconnect, the Mid-Atlantic grid operator, for deactivation. Once that review is complete, it will begin scaling back operations at the three plants.
“The decision to retire a power plant is always a difficult one for employees and the local communities. These are not decisions taken lightly,” GenOn CEO Dave Freysinger said, in the company statement. “GenOn will provide transition assistance, including advance notice, severance payments and access to health care, in accordance with our contracts and policies to all affected workers.”
This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among The Allegheny Front, WPSU, WITF and WHYY to cover the commonwealth's energy economy.