The use of coal in the production of power is becoming an issue in the state of Pennsylvania. First Energy, a Pa. utility company, has decided to cease operation of two of its coal burning power plants in Washington and Greene counties. The company cites a shift from coal as a fuel to produce electricity to natural gas, and maintains it is a cost effective decision rather than a political or environmental one.
The Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) has its own concerns arguing that the decision by First Energy may adversely affect consumers in the short term. In an interview, First Energy president Nash said, “We don’t see the demand for electricity picking up. The economy has not been robust since 2008.” So the cost effective motivation seems to be primary.
But the conflict goes beyond the state’s borders, with a swipe at the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with energy company officials saying that the regulatory environment in which utility companies have to operate should be left to the states when addressing specific energy sources.