The coal-fired power plants "are losing money today and will lose money in the future," said FirstEnergy president James Lash. "Our plans are not to run those units again."
Lash painted a bleak picture of the future of coal, saying the low price of electricity and dropping demand for power make the expense necessary to meet environmental regulations unaffordable.
Pennsylvania also has an abundance of cheap natural gas in the Marcellus shale reserves.
Lash says it would take another $270 million to bring both plants into compliance with environmental regulations, including the pending Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule, which would result in the plants being even bigger money-losers.
Those investments would be necessary even after the previous owner of the plants, Allegheny Energy of Greensburg, spent $715 million in 2009 to install scrubbers at Hatfield’s Ferry.
While fewer coal-fired plants may be good news for air quality, some 380 union workers will lose their jobs as a result of the closure.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania's renewable-energy standards resulted in the first wind-powered county in the country and what the NRDC describes as one of the most ambitious solar provisions in the eastern U.S.