Alexandria Power Plant to Close

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011  |  Updated 8:31 PM EDT
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After years of contention, the GenOn plant, formerly known as the Mirant Plant, will officially shut down.

Elaine Reyes

After years of contention, the GenOn plant, formerly known as the Mirant Plant, will officially shut down.

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A power plant on the Potomac plans to close its doors as soon as next fall.

The city of Alexandria announced on Tuesday that the GenOn Energy Potomac River Generating Station is slated to close permanently on October 1, 2012.

Euille said that the city had been in talks with GenOn to close the plant for several years now, but substantial discussions over the past few months led to Tuesday's announced agreement.

"This news strengthens Alexandria’s future and opens the door to an enhanced quality of life for our residents,” Alexandria's mayor William D. Euille said in a statement.  In order to facilitate the shut down of the coal burning plant, the city announced it would release $32 million in funds from an escrow account that had been set aside for infrastructure improvements on the plant.

“Retiring the facility next year makes sense for GenOn, but it is a difficult decision given the impact on the approximate 120 employees who work at the station,” said Edward R. Muller, Chairman and CEO of GenOn in a statement.  “Our decision to retire the plant is not reflective of our employees’ skills, dedication or capabilities, and we will work to help them in their transition over the next year.”

Mayor Euille said that the city will stand ready to assist those workers find new employment after the shutdown.

Although both the company and the city are aiming for the October 1 closure, there may be state and federal regulations that will push that date back.  Mayor Euille said if that happens, the GenOn agreed to make a one-time payment of $750,000 to the city.

The plant, opened in 1949, produces energy for Pepco by burning coal.  The plant's operators, GenOn, have drawn criticism and fines for the released emissions in the past.  This spring, the state of Virginia levied $275,000 in civil penalties on the plant for violations relating to emissions, emissions monitoring, and appropriate filings.

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