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State sparks huge reaction after closing its largest coal plant: 'Grandkids will have a little bit cleaner air'

The Homer City coal-burning power station, located 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, has been operating since 1969.

The Homer City coal plant-burning power station

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Pennsylvania's largest coal plant is scheduled to be permanently shut down in July, Electrek reports.

The Homer City coal-burning power station, located about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, has been operating since 1969. It operated at a utilization rate, also called a "capacity factor," of 90% for roughly 30 straight years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

However, that number dropped as natural gas began to gain favor over coal. By 2022, Homer City's capacity factor had dropped to just 20%.

Homer City sold for $1.8 billion in 1999. Environmental upgrades mandated by the Clean Air Act forced the new owners to pay a reported $750 million in 2014, after which they declared bankruptcy and sold the plant again in 2017.

In a statement, current CEO William A. Wexler explained why the plant will now close for good.

"Homer City based its decision on several factors, including the low price of natural gas, a dramatic spike in the cost of its ongoing coal supply, unseasonably warm winters, and increasingly stringent environmental regulations," he wrote.

As Electrek rightly hinted at, it is a bit rich for the CEO of a coal company to be complaining about "unseasonably warm winters" and "increasingly stringent environmental regulations" all in the same breath. 

Many scientific studies have confirmed that burning coal is one of the biggest contributors to the ongoing overheating of our planet, which has led to extreme weather events and changing climates worldwide. And that is to say nothing of the air and water pollution that burning coal causes in the direct vicinity of the plant.

For the most part, Electrek's commenters were heartened to see the news of a coal plant being shut down.

"Another coal monster eliminated! Grandkids will have a little bit cleaner air," wrote one commenter.

"I wonder if anybody will track the incidence of respiratory disease locally and see if it goes up or down post shutdown," speculated another.

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