Homer City Coal Plant to Keep All Three Units Operating

The Homer City coal-fired power plant will continue operating, according to multiple news sources in western Pennsylvania, where the plant is located.

Owners of the three-unit, 1,884-MW generating station in Indiana County, about 45 miles east of Pittsburgh, had been contemplating shuttering one or more units, while also exploring options to add renewable energy to the site.

“We did a lot of hard work to examine and re-evaluate the operation and economics of our Homer City units,” said William A. Wexler, chairman of the board and CEO of Homer City Holdings LLC. Wexler told the Tribune-Democrat, a Johnstown, Pennsylvania, newspaper, “We’re pleased we established a path forward with our operations, supported by a talented team of employees.”

The decision comes about two months after the company reportedly asked officials at PJM Interconnection for more time to determine the amount of power the Homer City plant would bid into the wholesale electricity market for the 2023-2024 capacity auction. PJM is a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia. Its capacity market, called the Reliability Pricing Model, ensures long-term grid reliability by securing the appropriate amount of power supply resources needed to meet predicted energy demand in the future.

The announcement to keep the three units at Homer City operating also comes on the same day as a Pennsylvania court decision to hold up a regulation that would have allowed the state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a cooperative, market-based effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.

According to an article published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Homer City’s environmental manager, Gary Cline, said in testimony before the Environmental Hearing Board in December 2020 that if “the Commonwealth joins RGGI, Homer City would be forced to shut down and these business and tax revenues would be permanently lost in Indiana County and the Commonwealth.” The station reportedly employs 129 people.

The Commonwealth Court issued a stay of the rule on Tuesday evening, pending further order of the court, 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s National Public Radio news station, reported. “The order didn’t include any explanation,” it said. Joining RGGI is a major piece of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s climate plan. Republican lawmakers, who oppose joining RGGI, had asked the court to prevent the rule from taking effect until all legal questions were resolved.

Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).

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