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The bad news carries an even heavier impact when we learn that it will cost hundreds of jobs in our region and put more strain on our country’s energy grid. Such was the case this week when we learned that Energy Harbor, owner of the WH Sammis power plant in Stratton and Willow Island in County Pleasants, said it would be closing Sammis next summer and closing two units in Willow. Island, unless both can be sold. The move would remove 3,074 megawatts of coal-fired electricity.

This type of energy is enough to power around 1.5 million homes per year. It nearly matches the 3,100 megawatts of electricity generated by all operational wind farms in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2021, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Energy Harbor’s goal is to be carbon-free in its energy production. Outside of Sammis and Willow Island, the company operates four nuclear power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“Decommissioning fossil fuel power plants is a difficult but necessary strategic business decision, critical to the continued transformation of our business,” said David Hamilton, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief nuclear officer at Energy. Harbour.

U.S. Representative Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, worries about the strain this will put on the country’s energy grid. He said a buyer needed to come forward soon as factories continue to operate within federal emissions guidelines and support hundreds of families.

“Whether some people like it or not, coal is still a very important part of our national baseload energy supply,” Johnson said. “The world has now seen the dangers of the ‘green rush’ as ​​so many European nations have come to realize that weather-dependent renewable fuels alone cannot power an economy.”

Johnson is right.

Although the share of coal in the country’s energy base has declined, it still accounts for nearly 22% of all national electricity production. Cutting over 3,000 megawatts of generation without a plan to replace them seems irresponsible. But maybe there is hope.

Although Energy Harbor’s decision is a step towards its own goal of being carbon-free, a buyer could step forward. Our region has suffered decades of erosion of its industrial base.

There is an opportunity here for a buyer to do the right thing, both for the economy of our region and for the energy security of our country as a whole.

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About Bob C. Zoller

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