Coal / FirstEnergy

FirstEnergy downplays rate concerns in spite of coal-burning plant closures

YOUNGSTOWN — “FirstEnergy announced Wednesday it will shut down three aging coal-fired power plants in West Virginia later this year, in addition to the six coal-fired power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland that already are scheduled to be retired.

The decision means there will be fewer plants to meet the demands for power, and that has the potential to increase the electric rates for FirstEnergy customers across most of northern Ohio and in the central part of the state, including Toledo, Cleveland and Youngstown.

Durbin said those nine plants are responsible for about 12 percent of the electricity the company produces.

For now, electricity prices should remain relatively low. About two weeks ago, the utilities commission announced that customers can expect electricity prices to decrease this summer after it approved the results of the fourth in a series of six wholesale auctions that will determine FirstEnergy’s retail generation service rates through May 2014.

The auction establishes a new generation price of $53.37 per megawatt hour (MWh) for June 2012 through May 2013, a decrease of 4 percent from the current price of $55.60 per MWh.

‘There are so many factors in the marketplace, and [the retirements] would only affect the generation portion’ of the bill, which is about two-thirds of an electric bill, Durbin said.

The other third of the bill includes distribution and service charges.”

— Ashley Luthern, Youngstown Vinvdicator

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