For Immediate Release:
February 8, 2012
Contact: Nick Sifuentes, firstname.lastname@example.org, 310-866-1692
Victory for Clean Air: First Energy to Retire Three West Virginia Coal
Sierra Club calls for responsible transition for
workers at the plants
West Virginia – In a victory for clean air and local residents’
health, Ohio-based First Energy Corp. announced the retirements of three of its
coal-fired power plants in West Virginia. The plants are slated to close on
September 1, 2012. Today’s news follows last month’s retirements of six of
First Energy’s coal plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
First Energy announced
the retirements of three plants: Albright Power Station, Willow Island Power
Station and Rivesville Power Station. In total, these closures will bring 660
megawatts of dirty, dangerous pollution to an end. The retirements represent a
major improvement in the lives of local residents, who have been exposed to the
pollution from these plants for decades.
coal-fired power plants contributes to respiratory illnesses and asthma attacks,
heart disease and cancer. Closure of these three plants will prevent approximately
40 premature deaths, 64 heart attacks and 620 asthma attacks, according to the
Clean Air Task Force.
“This is good news for
West Virginia, because those plants will no longer be polluting our air and
water like they have been for sixty years. We want to ensure that the company
has made a commitment to their workforce’s welfare once these plants close,”
said Jim Sconyers, Chair of the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club.
In recent years West
Virginia has made investments in clean energy, especially wind generation,
allowing old plants like these to be retired while ensuring West Virginia’s
power is reliable. “These plants were outdated, did not even operate most of
the time and lacked modern pollution controls. As we increase our share of
renewable energy like wind and solar power, old and unsafe plants like these,
which roar to life only at certain times, will be replaced by clean energy,”
said Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Director and West Virginia native Mary
Anne Hitt. “This means affordable power you can count on during the hottest and
coldest days and cleaner, safer air for our children and families.”
Together, the plants
employed about 105 workers. Rivesville’s workforce had previously been
transferred as that station ramped down operations, and First Energy has
announced that many will be transferred to other facilities. First Energy has
also recently begun an energy efficiency project which will result in local
jobs and lower electricity bills. “Closing these old dirty
plants is only the beginning of the responsibility that First Energy owes to
the surrounding communities. Instead of using public health safeguards as an
excuse for the closure of three old and unnecessary plants, they need to increase
investments in energy efficiency and create new jobs to assist the workers and
community with a smooth transition to a clean energy future,” said Sierra Club Environmental Justice
Organizing Representative Bill Price.
The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign
works in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and a nationwide coalition
of allies to retire one-third of the nation's aging coal plants by 2020,
replacing them with clean energy like wind and solar by 2030.
“This is a great development for the
Beyond Coal Campaign," said Michael
R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and mayor of New York City. “We have been witnessing the end of our dependency on
coal and the move toward a cleaner energy future for quite some time now. Ending coal power production is the right thing to do, because
while it may seem to be an inexpensive energy source, the impact on our
environment and the impact on public health outcomes are significant."
Coal plants are the largest sources of
climate disruption and toxic air pollution like mercury, soot and carbon
pollution. These three plants bring the tally of coal plant retirements to 95
since the Sierra Club began its Beyond Coal campaign in 2002.
For more information visit www.beyondcoal.org