Letter seeks support for plant

BELLAIRE — State Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, has written President Donald Trump and Gov. John Kasich seeking assistance in preventing the announced closure of the Sammis Plant electric generating station at Stratton.

FirstEnergy Solutions has said the coal-fired power plant will close in June 2022. FirstEnergy has spent about $2 billion in upgrades during the last decade to install pollution control equipment.

In his letters, Cera writes of the coal-fired power plants of Eastern Ohio, “Many hard-working people at these sites have dedicated their careers to make it possible for others to build businesses and create jobs for our country. The recent announcement by FirstEnergy Solutions of their plan to close the W.H. Sammis power plant (in Jefferson County) is a serious threat to that tradition.”

Cera writes, “Ripping that anchor away from our region would be nothing short of catastrophic. The Sammis Plant is not only a significant employer providing good paying jobs that will be gone, but such a loss would impact Jefferson County’s property taxes, as the Sammis Plant pays a little more than $7 million annually to the tax base.”

“With the livelihoods of so many hard-working residents at stake, I hope that we can work together to prevent this closure,” Cera wrote in his letters to the president and governor. “It is imperative that all affected parties now come together to have an open and honest conversation about what it will take to keep the plant open.”

Cera said government leaders need to take into account issues that could arise from the closure, including job losses, higher energy costs and a less resilient power grid for the PJM Interconnection, which controls the electrical grid and marketplace for the Northeastern U.S.

“It is my firm belief that coal is the best energy source for base-load generation, since it is reliable and can be stored at the plant. I am a willing partner to join in any conversations that call for maintaining the operation of the Sammis Plant,” Cera writes.

PJM releases lowest-priced energy first, which puts old coal-fired and nuclear plants at a disadvantage, Donald Moul, president of FirstEnergy Solutions Generation Cos., said in a prepared statement.

Cleveland.com reported FirstEnergy Solutions and parent company FirstEnergy have asked the Trump administration to intervene and order the plants to continue operating despite their higher costs of generation compared with newer gas-fired plants.

PJM would have to approve the plant closings.

COMMENTS