GenOn Will Close Avon Lake Power Plant by 2015
"Slight chance" plant will remain open, but not likely
GenOn Energy leaders said its the coal-fire power plant next to Miller Road Park in Avon Lake will close by April 2015, although plans are not definite.
A press release issued on Feb. 29 by the company said the Avon Lake facility’s closing was “subject to further review based on market conditions.”
“In particular, while the initial analysis for additional environmental controls at Avon Lake indicated that forecasted returns on those investments were insufficient, the evaluation of the returns on those environmental controls is continuing,” the release said.
GenOn is based in Houston and operates 47 generating stations in 12 states.
The release also said the Lake Road plant is one of several scheduled for closing “because forecasted returns on investments necessary to comply with environmental regulations are insufficient.”
Plants on the closing list include Elrama, PA (June 2012); Niles, OH, June 2012; Portland, PA (Jan 2015); Avon Lake; New Castle, PA (April 2015); Shawville, PA (April 2015); Titus, PA (April 2015) and Glen Gardner, NJ (May 2015).
In December, Patch reported the company was working without an operational permit after the EPA lagged in issuing it. In early February, reports surfaced that the plant was one of the county’s largest greenhouse polluters.
In November of 2011, an NPR report story reported that the power plant was on a “secret EPA watch list,” however Avon Lake and GenOn officials both said the plant was fully compliant with all EPA laws.
Mayor Greg Zilka said the plant’s closing would mean a financial hit for Avon Lake.
“In 2011, the income tax generated (from the plant) was $77,460,” Zilka said. “Property taxes were $134,000.”
Zilka said he was “disappointed and discouraged” by the potential closing and felt the press release issued by the company left a sliver of hope the plant would remain open.
“I talked to (external affairs manager) Mark Baird about it and asked him if there’s any hope and he said a slight one,” Zilka said.
Baird said dates are not set in stone.
"The announced deactivation dates are our best estimates based on the compliance deadlines for environmental regulations and current market conditions," Baird said. "If these factors change, we would re-evaluate and adapt our plans as appropriate."
Zilka said he felt bad for the school district, which would lose income based on the property tax loss.
What happens to the building if GenOn moves forward with the 2015 closure remains to be seen.
“We’d come up with plan to try to keep it,” Zilka said. “The property will be devalued. It has tremendous potential value, but the building itself has a history with chemicals.”
Baird said the plant does not plan any immediate changes.
"The company does not anticipate any material changes to the structures or the site at this time," Baird said. "We will maintain the site appearance while the plant is in a deactivated state. Any proposals to remove the structures on the site will be evaluated to determine if such actions are economic."