Yesterday, FE announced the closure of six of their oldest, dirtiest coal-fired generating plants, including the local R. Paul Smith plant in Williamsport, Maryland. Residents of the town say it's a "devastating blow."
FirstEnergy blames the EPA for the shut down and says that 529 employees will lose their jobs at the six plants. Aside from early retirement and severance, FirstEnergy has nothing much to offer these loyal employees. They also have nothing to offer the towns who are losing tax revenue and business generated by the plants. FirstEnergy says "too bad, so sad, look at what the EPA did to you" to all the "little people" affected by their business decision.
And make no mistake about it, the decision was all about what's best for FirstEnergy's bottom line and stock dividends. FirstEnergy closed these plants because they are no longer profitable. That's the real bottom line.
These plants rarely operate because they are obsolete and expensive to run. The only reason they have remained open this long is that they have been receiving capacity payments through PJM Interconnection's electricity market to remain available to supplement base load plants on a couple days a year when loads are heavy.
"The plant, which has a coal-fired boiler and a fuel-oil fired boiler, hasn’t generated power recently but has been run within the past year, he said.
But Durbin couldn’t say when the plant last generated power, noting that such information would be considered proprietary."
Proprietary? That's power company double-speak for, "I can't tell you because the answer would make me a liar."
Electrical demand has been down for several years and continues to fall. This is due to energy efficiency, demand side management and the building of new generation near load centers on the east coast. The "peaks" in electrical demand are flattening due to demand side management, whereby electricity use is voluntarily curtailed during times of peak demand. Smaller peaks means that peaking plants like the one in Williamsport are no longer needed. If they're no longer needed, they're not going to continue to receive capacity payments to sit around idle for 363 days a year. No money coming in, and FirstEnergy gives them the axe. This has NOTHING to do with the EPA.
Now, let's take a look at what FirstEnergy says out of the other side of their mouth... the one that speaks to their shareholders, who continually demand an increase in their earnings every quarter.
In this press release on Marketwatch, FE claims that the generating plant shut downs resulted in a .38 per share "charge" to their Non-GAAP earnings, but it didn't do a thing to their overall $2.44 per share GAAP earnings.
It's all about FirstEnergy's greedy bottom line. It's not about the EPA, or the well-being of their loyal employees, or the communities they serve.