on September 28, 2012 at 7:45 PM, updated October 01, 2012 at 4:25 PM
AKRON, Ohio -- Plummeting natural gas prices have lowered the price of electricity as utilities with gas-fired power plants push those with coal-fired plants out of the marketplace.
Now, FirstEnergy Corp., which operates more than 20 coal-fired plants, is studying whether to modify one power plant to add natural gas to its three coal-fired boilers. The alteration, costing as much as $20 million per boiler, would enable the plant to meet the competition, reduce emissions and respond to new patterns of power demand that have developed since the recession.
A proposed retrofit at the Hatfields Ferry power plant on the Monongahela River in Masontown, Pa., would also enable operators to more quickly cycle the plant up and down to meet variable demand for electricity.
Unlike coal-fired power plants, boilers heated with natural gas do not have to idle at full power while waiting for demand. The old boilers, in contrast, were designed to run flat out, providing power around the clock to the region's industrial customers.
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