FirstEnergy files for bankruptcy, seeks federal aid after announcing nuclear plant closings
Pennsylvania electricity producers pulled in $14.8 billion in revenue in 2016, generating more than 145 million megawatt hours of power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Of that total, more than 15.2 million megawatt hours came from the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport owned by FirstEnergy Solutions. By 2021, according to FirstEnergy, that power station, with its pair of nuclear reactors, will be closed.
A day after announcing the closure plans, along with those of two plants in Ohio, FirstEnergy sent a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry seeking federal intervention. In the letter, FirstEnergy suggests that the department step in and force PJM Interconnection, which buys electricity from operators like FirstEnergy, to pay higher rates.
“We find ourselves at a crisis point where significant baseload generation will cease to exist … without quick and decisive intervention,” FirstEnergy wrote in its letter to Perry. “Premature nuclear and coal-fired plant closures know no season – as the announcement yesterday that FirstEnergy Solutions will deactivate over 4000 MW of nuclear generation shows.”
Then, Saturday evening, First Energy Solutions revealed that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company said it has enough cash on hand to continue operations and that it plans to reorganize and restructure rather than winding down operations.
“FES will also continue seeking legislative and regulatory relief at the state and federal level,” the company said in a statement posted to its website.
Pennsylvania legislators weighed in on the issue. State Sen. Ryan Aument, R-Lititz, John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, Rep. Becky Corbin, R-Exton And Rob Matzie, D-Ambridge, formed a state Nuclear Energy Caucus in 2017 in the face of nuclear power plant closures across the country. They issued a joint statement calling on federal officials and PJM to take FirstEnergy’s concerns seriously.