Wednesday, April 1, 2009

SHADYSIDE, OHIO (AP) - Electric power company FirstEnergy Corp. said Wednesday it plans to spend $200 million to convert two units at an eastern Ohio power plant to burn renewable biomass like wood chips and crops grown as fuel.

The Akron, Ohio-based company said the conversion will make its R.E. Burger plant in Shadyside one of the nation’s largest biomass facilities.

During the transition, to be completed by 2013, the units can continue to burn coal.

The plan is part of a 2005 agreement stemming from a federal court case in which FirstEnergy agreed to reduce pollution from its power plants.

The converted units will potentially have the same generating capacity as the current coal operation, enough to power 190,000 homes. Some smaller units at the plant that burn coal or oil are not part of the conversion.

FirstEnergy had a March 31 deadline to determine the future of the plant along the Ohio River.

The company has 4.5 million customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

FirstEnergy shares were trading up 11 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $38.71 early Wednesday afternoon.


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