In another victory for clean air in the battle against coal-fired plants, First Energy Thursday said it will retire six of its dirtiest power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland by September 1.
The Ohio-based utility will retire these plants: Bay Shore Plant, Units 2-4, Oregon, Ohio; Eastlake Plant, Eastlake, Ohio; Ashtabula Plant, Ashtabula, Ohio; Lake Shore Plant, Cleveland, Ohio; Armstrong Power Station, Adrian, Pa.; and R. Paul Smith Power Station, Williamsport, Md.
According to the Sierra Club, the retirements will bring 2,689 megawatts of coal pollution to an end. It’s also estimated that the closures will prevent more than 174 premature deaths, 282 heart attacks, 2,677 asthma attacks, and 136 asthma emergency room visits, according to data from the Clean Air Task Force.
The development “is part of a national trend of clean energy replacing coal, “ says Bruce Nilles, Senior Director of the Sierra’s Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “The writing is on the wall for the coal industry; with the cost of coal rising and clean energy prices plummeting, coal’s market share is shrinking fast.”
A report this week from the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast a drop in coal’s market share, from 44 to 39 percent, between 2010 and 2035. The report also says that no new coal plants will be constructed during this period, except for those already under construction.
“The EIA reports traditionally underestimate coal’s decline, and the First Energy decision seems to suggest an even steeper drop for coal power in the United States,” the Sierra Club noted.
The clean energy industry received a strong boost from President Obama in Monday’s State of the Union address, and Ohio is already seeing a strong clean energy presence alternative: The state has approved plans for a 91-turbine wind farm that will bring up to $61 million dollars into the region.
“We are clearly witnessing the end of our dependency on coal and the move toward a cleaner energy future,” says New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Last July TriplePundit reported that Bloomberg and his Bloomberg Philanthropies arm committed $50 million over four years to club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
Beyond Coal qualifies as one of the most successful environmental campaign ever, and that was even before Bloomberg entered the picture. The closure of the First Energy plants will bring the number of coal plant retirements to 93 since the campaign began in 2002. It just gets better.
[Image Credit: Plant at Mount Storm, WV by euze via Flickr cc]