Burger plant not fully closed

SHADYSIDE – Although the R.E. Burger power plant stopped producing coal-fired electricity in 2010 to reduce FirstEnergy Corp.’s emissions of sulfur dioxide, the company still occasionally uses the facility for generation purposes.

“During peak demand events, the diesel generators can be called upon to produce power. The power generated is small in comparison to our larger plants that operate more consistently,” FirstEnergy spokeswoman Stephanie Walton said of the Burger facility.

FirstEnergy provides electricity to Hancock, Brooke, Wetzel and Tyler County customers through its Mon Power subsidiary. The company still operates the huge W.H. Sammis Plant in Jefferson County, which actually stretches over the lanes of Ohio 7.

Previously operated by the former Ohio Edison Co., the Burger and Sammis plants became part of FirstEnergy through a corporate merger in the 1990s. The Burger plant is south of Shadyside between the Ohio River and Ohio 7, and just across the river from Moundsville.

In 2009, FirstEnergy officials said they planned to convert the coal-fired Burger plant into a facility that would burn biomass agricultural waste for electricity. The projected $200 million project was part of the company’s response to reduce system-wide sulfur dioxide emissions to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. However, this never came to fruition, as FirstEnergy officials said the plan was not economical at the time.

“FirstEnergy is currently using the Burger plant for a variety of purposes. The plant’s emergency diesel generators are used to produce power in periods of peak demand, and the facility also serves the rest of the company’s generation fleet as a central location for repair and maintenance activities,” Walton added regarding the facility’s purpose. She added the company had no current demolition plans for the plant.

In addition to shutting down the coal units at Burger, FirstEnergy deactivated two other coal-fired plants in Pennsylvania last year.

After investing hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade their facilities, while shutting down others, FirstEnergy expects to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by 84 percent, sulfur dioxide by 95 percent, mercury by 91 percent and carbon dioxide by 20-30 percent.

According to the company’s website, FirstEnergy fuel portfolio for running its power plants as of March consists of:

– 56 percent coal,

– 22 percent nuclear,

– 11 percent via a combination of hydro, wind and solar,

– 8 percent natural gas,

– 1 percent oil, and

– 2 percent other.