Edison Intl to shut Chicago coal-fired plants early
* Fisk and Crawford plants to shut in 2012
* Plants employ 165 workers
* GE to take over Pennsylvania Homer City coal plant
By Scott DiSavino
May 3 (Reuters) - Midwest Generation said it would shut two coal-fired power plants in Chicago earlier than expected in September, a spokesman for the company said Thursday.
In February, Midwest Generation, a unit of California power company Edison International's Edison Mission Group, agreed with the city of Chicago and environmental and community groups to shut the 326-megawatt Fisk plant by the end of 2012 and the 532-MW Crawford plant by the end of 2014.
Edison spokesman Charlie Parnell told Reuters the company decided to shut the plants early for economic reasons. The Fisk and Crawford plants entered service in the 1950s and 1960s.
The two plants employ about 165 workers.
PJM, the regional grid operator for 13 Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states, has already signed off on the plan to shut the two plants because they were not needed for regional reliability.
Over the past few years, power companies have announced plans to shut more than 30,000 MW of coal-fired generation due to proposed more stringent federal environmental regulations, weak power market conditions and record switching from coal to natural gas-fired generators since gas has been cheaper than coal since about 2010.
In addition to the two Chicago coal plants, Midwest Generation also owns coal units at other plants in Illinois - the 1,350-MW Joliet, 761-MW Will County, 797-MW Waukegan and the 1,538-MW Powerton.
Parnell said the company had time before it needed to decide whether to upgrade the emissions controls at the other units.
The company, for example, has until 2014 to decide whether to install scrubbers at the two coal units at Waukegan, he said.
The units at Joliet, Will County and Waukegan entered service in the 1950s and 1960s. The two 769-MW units at Powerton entered service in the 1970s.
Separately, another unit of Edison Mission Group was in the process of transferring the 1,884-MW Homer City coal plant in Pennsylvania to a unit of U.S. conglomerate General Electric Co , the majority owner-lessor of the plant.
Edison Mission said in February it was talking with GE about transferring the Homer City plant in part because of the high cost of upgrading the plant's emissions control equipment.
The cost of installing sulfur dioxide and particulate control equipment on Units 1 and 2 at the plant was estimated at up to $750 million.
The three Homer City units entered service in 1969 (Units 1 and 2) and 1977 (Unit 3). (Reporting By Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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