Akron’s FirstEnergy Corp. intends to reduce operations at its giant W.H. Sammis coal-fired power plant because the electricity is not needed.
Minimal operations will begin Sept. 16 at the plant southeast of Akron in Jefferson County and will affect 440 workers, company spokesman Mark Durbin said Thursday.
The cutbacks will continue indefinitely — until the stagnant economy improves, he said.
“It’s tough to say how long the reduced operations might last. It could be awhile. We’ll just have to wait and see,” Durbin said.
The plant produces enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes but demand has fallen sharply, he said.
“Because of low [electricity] market prices, it is just not cost-effective to run the plant,” Durbin said. “We don’t see a need, right now, to run the plant.”
The workers at the plant will not be laid off, he said. A small crew will remain at work at the Sammis plant, in Stratton on the Ohio River south of East Liverpool.
Other workers at the plant will be assigned temporary work at projects at FirstEnergy’s other power plants, he said. They were notified Wednesday.
The 2,233-megawatt Sammis plant would still be available if PJM Interconnection would order the plant to operate, Durbin said. The Pennsylvania-based agency is the manager of the high-voltage grid from Ohio to the East Coast.
The Sammis plant, with its seven boilers, is FirstEnergy’s largest power plant in Ohio and the utility’s second largest plant overall, behind the 2,460-megawatt D. Bruce Mansfield Power Station with its scrubbers in Shippingport, Pa.
A megawatt is enough electricity to power 600 to 1,000 houses.
FirstEnergy in late 2010 completed installing anti-pollution equipment, including scrubbers, at the Sammis plant. It was a $1.8 billion project that began in 2005.
The scrubbers were designed to cut sulfur dioxide pollution by 95 percent. Other anti-pollution equipment cut nitrogen oxide pollution by 90 percent.
The plant, which sits on 187 acres around state Route 7, also installed $456 million in anti-soot equipment in the early 1980s.
The plant burns between 6 million and 7 million tons per year.
The first boilers at Sammis were built in 1959 and 1962.
The plant was named for Walter H. Sammis, president of Ohio Edison Co. from 1944 to 1964.
The reduced operations at Sammis will mean FirstEnergy will be producing power at three nuclear power plants and seven coal-fired plants: one boiler at Bayshore near Toledo; three boilers at Mansfield; two boilers at Fort Martins, three boilers at Harrison and two boilers at Pleasant, all in West Virginia; three boilers at Hatfield’s Ferry and one boiler at Mitchell, both in Pennsylvania.
In addition, the company must keep the Ashtabula, Eastlake Units 1-3 and Lakeshore plants running until early 2015 to provide adequate power for the grid under PJM directives.
FirstEnergy also has natural gas-fired and oil-fired units, hydro units, peaking units and renewable energy operations.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.