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FirstEnergy scraps Burger biomass plans

As the price for electricity has dropped in recent months, Akron, Ohio-headquartered energy company FirstEnergy Corp. has now announced that it is cancelling its plans to repower units 3 and 4 with biomass at its R.E. Burger Plant located in Shadyside.

The new biomass-powered units would have been used to generate electricity, however FirstEnergy is now to shut down the units by 31 December 2010.

‘Despite our best efforts, we were unable to overcome the challenges of the difficult economy to cost-effectively repower the Burger plant to burn biomass,’ said Gary Leidich, executive vice president and president of FirstEnergy Generation. ‘We are disappointed that this groundbreaking project will not be realised, particularly because plant employees worked with such spirit and determination to find a way to keep the units operating.’

79 staff currently work at the Burger plant and, according to FirstEnergy, they will either continue at the facility during the shut-down process or be temporarily reassigned to other FirstEnergy facilities, including the W.H. Sammis plant in Stratton, Ohio. Once the workload on these projects begins to decrease, the company will then offer those affected employees other job opportunities within the FirstEnergy system.

Burger plant units 3 and 4 were included as part of a 2005 Consent Decree settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency and other parties to the company’s New Source Review case involving its W.H. Sammis facility. Under the 2005 Consent Decree, FirstEnergy was obligated to repower, scrub or shut down the units as part of an overall compliance plan to reduce system-wide emissions of sulphur dioxide.