Coal Unit at Center of Trump Bailout Bid to Shut 19 Months Early
By Will Wade
August 10, 2019 - A Pennsylvania power plant that was at the center of President Donald Trump’s effort to revive the coal industry will be closing 19 months ahead of schedule.
FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. plans to shutter the Bruce Mansfield power plant’s Unit 3 in November because of “a lack of economic viability,” according to a statement Friday. The company had earlier said it would close the site in June 2021. Units 1 and 2 were deactivated in February.
Bruce Mansfield was the state’s biggest coal-fired power plant but struggled to compete against cheap natural gas flowing out of nearby shale formations. One of its biggest supporters was Robert E. Murray, chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corp. and a major supplier for the complex. He lobbied the Trump administration for policies that would help the facility, and in 2017 the Energy Department proposed a plan to pay coal generators more for stockpiling fuel on-site. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected the idea in 2018.
FirstEnergy Solutions filed for bankruptcy in March 2018, dragged down by its coal and nuclear power plants. It’s a unit of FirstEnergy Corp. The company said the deactivation process at Bruce Mansfield will be complete by May.
FirstEnergy Solutions had said that it would close two nuclear plants in Ohio, and the state last month approved a plan to offer financial assistance that would let the company keep them open.