Public Media for Central Pennsylvania
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pa. Utility Asks State For Help To Keep Coal And Nuclear Plants Going

Keith Srakocic
AP Photo


A power company called FirstEnergy wants Pennsylvania lawmakers to once again regulate the electricity market in the state.

Twenty years ago Pennsylvania became one of about a dozen states that deregulated its power market. Instead of regulators setting prices for electricity as they did in the past, the prices are now determined in a competitive market. While that’s helped some consumers — particularly commercial customers — it’s made it harder for certain generating plants to make a profit. Low natural gas prices have driven the cost of power down, and FirstEnergy says it’s losing money at its coal and nuclear facilities.

Together, coal and nuclear make up 80 percent of the company’s total generating capacity.

In Pennsylvania, the company operates one coal plant, one nuclear plant, four natural gas plants, and one wind power facility.

FirstEnergy spokesman Doug Colafella says the company plans to exit the competitive market in the next 12 to 18 months.

“We will either sell the plants, seek potential re-regulation at the state level. And if that’s not successful, we expect we will likely shut some plants down,” Colafella said.

About 1,000 people work at the seven generating facilities FirstEnergy operates in Pennsylvania.

This has become a contentious issue in neighboring Ohio, where the company also operates. There, the company has asked for subsidies to keep its noncompetive plants online. 

Irina Zhorov was WESA’s reporter for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide public media initiative focused on issues in older Pennsylvania communities.