PA Coal Plant Closes 2 Years Early

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 @ 11:10 AM gHale

A coal-fired power plant on tap to close in 2017 is shutting its doors now instead, putting about 35 people out of work.

Virginia-based AES Corp. said the plant in Potter Township, PA, which investigated converting to natural gas-fired, is closing because the company couldn’t find a buyer for its electricity.

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The plant once employed more than 100 people but recently cut its workforce there to about 35.

The small plant for years has been supplying steam to local industrial facilities such as Nova Chemicals and BASF, although those businesses have sought alternative options with the news of the AES plant closing in 2017.

Jack Manning, president of the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce, said news of the plant closing wasn’t unexpected, although not this soon.

Regardless, it doesn’t lessen the blow of jobs leaving the county and the area losing one more industrial complex.

“We’ve been anticipating this, as it was something under discussion for several years for them to find a buyer,” Manning said. “It seemed inevitable, but nonetheless, it’s sad for those employees and for the history of Beaver County.”

Manning, who previously worked for Nova, said that company and BASF have already made alternative plans for steam “as a result of the uncertainty on where AES would be with their plans.”

There was hope the plant could continue until 2017 while running on natural gas, Manning said, adding that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection gave permission earlier this year for AES to install upgrades that would give the plant the capability to burn gas.

Company spokeswoman Amy Ackerman said the company made the decision to close the plant “a while ago” and the plant officially closed “over the summertime at some point.”

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