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FirstEnergy switches from coal to biomass

In Cleveland, Ohio, US, energy company FirstEnergy is seeking approval to replace one of its coal-burning power plants with wood pellets.

Authorisation would see the firm’s R.E. Burger generators become the largest in the US to be fired with wood pellets.

The company is currently aiming for the R.E. Burger power generation facility to be burning 80% of wood pellets and briquettes alongside coal by 2013.

The switchover application comes after FirstEnergy was ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to close a number of its coal-fired power plants if it did not install pollution control equipment or change from burning fossil fuels.

However the proposal does not please environmental groups, who claim that the change over will result in deforestation and an increase in carbon dioxide.

The environmentalists are urging the Public Utilities Commission to postpone their final ruling until the environmental effects of burning pellets are determined and FirstEnergy explains how it will meet the fuel mandates.