WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Part of a strategy developed in an effort to keep the Pleasants Power Station in Pleasants County from closing is urging President Donald Trump to use his emergency powers to stop the closure of coal-fired power plants.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, First District Congressman David McKinley and Gov. Jim Justice had an opportunity to urge Trump to take that step during his visit to White Sulphur Springs Thursday.
“We rearranged our schedule to attend this event and bring that message to him, and it was encouraging to hear the President announce that he intends to consider our request,” McKinley said in a statement released by his office.
Senator Capito said during an appearance Friday on MetroNews “Talkline” state representatives are trying to make the case that the President can step in and keep the power plant at Willow Island open for another two years until the situation stabilizes.
“The President has to declare that the nation’s energy supply could be at risk if we take too much power generation out of the system,” Capito said. “I think we’re trying to make a case for that. He listened.”
According to McKinley, closing the Pleasants Power Station would have a ripple effect that would be felt throughout the community.
“Pleasants Power Station is Pleasants County’s largest employer and they make up 27 percent of the tax revenue, generating millions of dollars for our schools, roads and citizen services,” McKinley said.
FirstEnergy announced back in February it would close the plant at the beginning of next year if no buyer is found.
“We will continue to pursue opportunities to sell the plant while planning for deactivation,” FirstEnergy CEO Charles Jones said in a February statement.
The announcement came after federal regulators blocked FirstEnergy’s attempt to have its subsidiaries, Mon Power and Potomac Edison, purchase the plant.
The Pleasants Power Station has approximately 190 workers. It opened in 1979. It has two 650-megawatt generating units. FirstEnergy said the plant produces enough electricity to power approximately 1.3 million homes.
The Secretary of Energy through President Trump has 202(c) emergency powers under the Federal Power Act that allows for the securing of the electric grid. There is a question to be considered, Capito said.
“Are we bringing our energy resources down to a point where we’re going to imperil our ability to ramp up during a cold period or a very hot period,” she said.
McKinley met with Pleasants County officials earlier this week to coordinate a strategy to save the plant. He had several of those officials with him in White Sulphur Springs Thursday.