Last coal-fired power plant in Allegheny County closes
Site could be redeveloped for renewable energy, industrial use, new owners say
Cheswick parent company GenOn announced it was closing the Springdale, Pennsylvania plant Last yearciting market conditions, environmental rules and an inability to compete with other types of production. He joins hundreds of other coal-fired power plants across the country that have been replaced by cheaper energy sources, such as natural gas and renewables.
This week, the 565 megawatt plant, commissioned in 1970, was transferred to its new owner, Charah Solutions, a Kentucky company specializing in the demolition of coal-fired power plants. CEO Scott Reschly said that after the demolition the company would redevelop the site.
“There has been interest in renewable energy, such as battery storage type applications. There has been some logistical interest in using the river access,” Reschly said.
Reschly says the location’s access to the Allegheny River and existing connection to the power grid make it an attractive site for an industrial or renewable energy project. But he says his business is open to other end uses.
“(We have) really focused on industrial and energy uses so far. But that doesn’t mean other things can’t come to mind over the next six to 12 months.
In total, the closure will entail in 60 dismissals.
Reschly said some of those employees will be brought in to work on the demolition, which will include the removal of asbestos, the recycling of metals like copper and steel on site, and the likely implosion of a chimney. 700 feet.
“Of course, eventually we will have to reduce that stack and that will take a lot of planning, a lot of interfacing with the community and other entities to make sure there is no disruption,” Reschly said. “Obviously, you have to consider environmental compliance. We want to make sure there’s no dust and that kind of thing. So (there will be) a lot of planning to reduce this stack.
The factory, one of the county’s biggest sources of pollution, had been the subject of litigation air and water pollution. EPA data showed the plant emitted 608,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2020, the equivalent of 129,000 cars on the road.
The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in 2019 against the company for releasing hot water in the Allegheny River. The Sierra Club too sued the factory in 2018 for disabling its emissions controls at certain times of the day. In 2020, a federal court reversed a “gaping loophole” in state pollution rules that allowed the plant to do so.
Charah will also remediate a nearby coal ash dump affiliated with the plant and continue to maintain the plant’s sewage treatment plant.