Just two weeks after FirstEnergy Corp. said it would close more than 2 GW of six older coal-fired power plants Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland by September, the Akron, Ohio–based company today said it would retire three more plants in West Virginia. The company cited “high costs” to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recently finalized Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS).

FirstEnergy said it would shutter the Albright, Willow Island, and Rivesville Power Stations in West Virginia by Sept. 1, 2012. The total capacity of these regulated plants is 660 MW—or about 3% of FirstEnergy’s total regulated and competitive generation portfolio. “Recently, these plants served mostly as peaking facilities, generating, on average, less than 1 percent of the electricity produced by FirstEnergy over the past three years,” the company said in a statement today.

A year-long study of how changes in environmental regulations would impact the company’s older, unscrubbed regulated coal fleet by FirstEnergy subsidiary Mon Power determined that “additional investments to implement MATS and other environmental rules would make these plants even less likely to be dispatched,” FirstEnergy said. “As a result, the decision was made to retire these West Virginia plants rather than continue operations.”

As POWERnews reported last week, FirstEnergy plans to close six other plants, mostly peaking or immediate generating facilities, with a capacity of 2,689 MW—or about 10% of the company’s power. They are: Bay Shore Plant, Units 2-4, Oregon, Ohio; Eastlake Plant, Eastlake, Ohio; Ashtabula Plant, Ashtabula, Ohio; Lake Shore Plant, Cleveland, Ohio; Armstrong Power Station, Adrian, Pa.; and R. Paul Smith Power Station, Williamsport, Md.

The company made a similar determination to shutter those plants after weighing, through a cost-assessment review, the potential impact of the final MATS and other rules, including pending greenhouse gas emission–curbing regulations, water intake and coal combustion residual regulations, and rules that could replace the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), including the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) that was stayed by the courts on Dec. 30, 2011.

Fewer than 105 employees are expected to be affected by the West Virginia plant closures.

All announced retirements are subject to review for reliability impacts by regional grid operator PJM Interconnection.

Sources: POWERnews, FirstEnergy