Coal / FirstEnergy

What happens to a small town when its coal plant shuts down?

FirstEnergy's Eastlake power plant.

EASTLAKE — “When the FirstEnergy Corporation announced last week that, due to new mercury and air toxin standards, the company would be closing six of its coal energy plants, the city of Eastlake, Ohio, couldn’t help but panic a little.

The town of 20,000, just outside of Cleveland on the shore of Lake Erie, is home to one of the six plants slated for closure. The plant is one of the largest employers in town, and when it shuts down operations in September, it will also stop generating tax revenue for the city.

‘It’s a huge hit,’ says Mayor Ted Andrzejewski.

FirstEnergy said newly enacted rules by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would make it prohibitively expensive to keep them operational. The six plants were all relatively small, accounting for about 10 percent of the company’s energy production. Retrofitting these smaller, older plants would be too expensive.

The side benefit for Eastlake is that the coal-burning energy plant will no longer be spewing toxins like arsenic and lead into the air. The result will be cleaner air – the main intent of the new EPA rules.”

— Nate Berg, The Atlantic Cities

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