W.H. Sammis Plant in Jefferson County to See 720 Megawatts Shut Down

STRATTON — By 2020, FirstEnergy Corp. will retire enough coal-fired electricity to power about 720,000 homes, as it announced plans to shut down four generating units at the W.H. Sammis Plant in Jefferson County.

FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young said none of the 368 Sammis employees will lose their jobs as a result of the changes, however, which also will include turning off a coal-fired unit at the Bay Shore plant near Toledo, Ohio.

FirstEnergy officials said closing the generating units, each of which is at least 50 years old, is a wise move for the company’s profitability. A substantial portion of the Sammis facility — which is so large that Ohio 7 runs beneath it — will remain open, with the plant still able to product 1,500 megawatts after 2020.

“We have taken a number of steps in recent years to reduce operating costs of our generation fleet,” FirstEnergy Generation President Jim Lash said. “However, continued challenging market conditions have made it increasingly difficult for smaller units like Bay Shore and Sammis Units 1-4 to be competitive. It’s no longer economically viable to operate these facilities.”

The Sammis plant is FirstEnergy’s largest coal-fired power plant in Ohio. It was an Ohio Edison operation until that company merged with Centerior in 1997 to form FirstEnergy.

In 2010, the company spent $1.8 billion to install new emissions control equipment at the plant.

The three larger units that will remain online at Sammis each entered service from 1967 to 1971, with two of the generators each pumping out about 600 megawatts and the other producing 300 megawatts.

Environmental advocates cheered the Friday announcement, as officials with the San Francisco-based Sierra Club said retiring these generators is part of their “Beyond Coal” campaign. They claim closing these plants will yield the environmental benefit equivalent of removing 640,000 cars from the road and will prevent 3,070 cases of asthma.

Last year, American Electric Power turned off 5,535 megawatts of coal-fired power across Appalachia, including the 630-megawatt Kammer Plant in Marshall County. Also, AEP plans to transition its coal-fired generator at the Cardinal Plant near Brilliant to run on natural gas no later than 2030.