Calendar of Events
|Efforts to Save Homer City Power Plant Under Way|
|Monday, 30 April 2012 12:33|
Efforts were under way this spring to transfer operating control of the Homer City Generating Station, a nearly 1,900-megawatt baseload power plant in Indiana County, Pa., to its majority owner for a proposed pollution control project that would allow the facility to continue burning coal.
Homer City’s future was thrown in doubt in February when Edison Mission Energy, an Edison International subsidiary that leases Homer City from GE Capital Corp., said it could not afford the estimated $700 million environmental retrofit, which is needed to enable the 43-year-old baseload plant to comply with new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules.
But then GE Capital Corp., a unit of General Electric Co., began negotiating with Edison Mission to regain control of Homer City so it can finance improvements that include the installation of two new scrubbers to reduce sulfur-dioxide emissions. One of Homer City’s three units already is equipped with a scrubber and the plant has selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment to cut emissions of nitrogen oxide.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was expected to approve the project, according to Doug McFarlan, spokesman for Chicago-based Midwest Generation, an Edison Mission affiliate. “We want to get the scrubber construction started in April,” he said. “Preliminary work has started, but not full blown. We hope to have the permits in hand from DEP in April.”
Final terms of the transfer of control agreement between Edison Mission and GE Capital still had not been worked out, McFarlan added. “The publicly stated intent of both us and GE is to work through it and get to an agreement and get the scrubbers on…there’s been continuing good faith discussions.”
Those talks do not include the Sierra Club. The environmental group, pursuing a nationwide “beyond coal” campaign, considers Homer City one of the most polluting power plants in the country. Instead of adding controls to lower the coal plant’s emissions, the plant would be shut down or converted to natural gas, it says.
Homer City is an important plant for several reasons. It generates enough electricity to supply almost 2 million homes. It enjoys strong backing from local residents who fear the loss of its 265 good-paying jobs if the plant is shuttered. They made their voices heard during a March 11 public hearing sponsored by DEP. The plant also helps support more than 200 coal mining jobs, including with Pennsylvania-based Rosebud Mining Co.