FirstEnergy Corp. has abandoned a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, utility executives announced on a call with shareholders last week.

Two coal-fired plants – Fort Martin and Harrison in West Virginia – represent approximately 99% of the company’s emissions. But FirstEnergy stressed challenges to retiring these plants by 2030, including future resource adequacy concerns, changing market conditions and energy policy in West Virginia, one of the largest coal-producing states.

“We’ve identified several challenges to our ability to meet that interim goal, including resource adequacy concerns in the PJM region and state energy policy initiatives,” FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Brian Tierney said on the investor call.

FirstEnergy maintains a goal of achieving net carbon neutrality by 2050.

Through regulatory filings with West Virginia regulators, the utility is forecasting retirement dates of 2035 and 2040 for Fort Martin and Harrison, respectively.

Fort Martin Power Station is located in Maidsville, West Virginia, along the Monongahela River. Two coal-fired units produce 1,098 MW of electricity. Unit 1 went online in 1967 and generates 552 MW. Unit 2 went online in 1968 and generates 546 MW. The plant uses more than 2.8 million tons of coal annually.

FirstEnergy has invested nearly $625 million on Fort Martin’s environmental control systems. Each unit has a scrubber system that removes more than 98 percent of the sulfur dioxide emissions. The scrubbed flue gas produces a steam plume that is carried from the units through a newly-constructed 550-foot chimney. The scrubbers were completed and placed in service during the last quarter of 2009.

Harrison Power Station is located in Haywood, West Virginia, along the West Fork River. Three coal-fired units produce a total of 1,984 MW of electricity. Unit 1 came online in 1972 with Unit 2 coming online in 1973. Unit 3 came online in 1974. The plant uses more than five million tons of coal annually.

FirstEnergy has invested nearly $1 billion dollars on environmental control systems at Harrison. All three units are equipped with scrubber modules located between the boilers and the 1,000-foot chimney that remove more than 98 percent of the sulfur dioxide emissions. The scrubbers have been a part of the plant since 1995.

MORE: FirstEnergy coal plants seek OK for environmental compliance work

Fort Martin and Harrison represent about 1.5% of total coal capacity in the U.S., and about 7% of PJM’s coal capacity. PJM recently requested the delayed retirement of two coal-fired units in Maryland, citing resource adequacy and reliability concerns.

FirstEnergy claims it has reduced its Scope 1 GHG emissions by 84%, from 2005 levels, through the retirement, sale and/or separation of fossil-fired capacity.

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