FirstEnergy Warns Of Three Plant Closures

Three nuclear power plants are headed for an early shut down due to financial concerns, said FirstEnergy on Friday, calling attention to the plight of the Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, Ohio, the Perry plant near Cleveland and the Beaver Valley plant close to Pittsburgh, Pa.

Davis-BesseFirstEnergy is closest to a call on shuttering the Davis-Besse plant than it is to the other two facilities, the Associated Press reported. Otherwise, no shut down dates have been set for any of the plants.

FirstEnergy Chief Financial Officer James Pearson said the deregulated markets had undermined the energy economics in the region, given the competition with natural gas, which has gone through a disrupting price shift with the advent of hydrofracking, which could undercut prices for decades to come.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's rejection of the Trump administrations plan to help both coal and nuclear power plants has also contributed to uncertainty in financial expectations. A more immediate concern, however, is a $100 million debt payment FirstEnergy is due to pay in April.

Facing that upcoming hurdle, “those unites cannot generate enough cash to cover costs,” Pearson said.

The closures would represent three more huge investments shuttered before their time. The Davis-Besse plant is licensed through April 2037. The Beaver Valley's two units are licensed through January 2036 and May 2047, while the Perry plant is licensed through March 2026.

If they all closed this year, the region – and the country – would lose out on 38 years of investment, almost the life-expectancy of a brand new nuclear power plant prior to license extensions. 

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