FirstEnergy Acquires Rights to Norton Energy Storage Project
AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — FirstEnergy Generation Corp., a subsidiary of Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) today announced that it has purchased the rights to develop a compressed-air electric generating plant on a 92-acre site in Norton, Ohio, from CAES Development Company, LLC. The transaction includes rights to a 600-acre underground cavern, formerly operated as a limestone mine, that is ideal for energy storage technology.
“The compressed-air technology envisioned at this site would essentially operate like a large battery, storing energy at night for use during the day when it is needed,” said Anthony J. Alexander, president and chief executive officer of FirstEnergy. “Because many renewable energy sources – such as wind – are intermittent, they don’t always produce power when electricity demand is high. The energy storage aspects of this project would provide a way to harness renewable energy to be used when customers need it, making this project a key component to our region’s overall renewable energy strategy.”
“This project has the potential to create hundreds of construction jobs and provide support for the development of a vibrant renewable energy business – and additional ‘green energy’ jobs – in Ohio,” said Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. “This is an example of how we can leverage technology and our natural resources to grow our economy and ensure our energy future.”
Similar to pumped-hydro storage – where water is pumped up to a reservoir then released through a turbine to produce electricity during peak periods – compressed-air technology involves compressing air in an underground cavern or other chamber during the evening – when electricity demand is lower – and releasing it during the day, when the need for electricity is greater.
“A compressed-air energy storage project of this size has the potential to be a major step in advancing electricity storage and balancing load demand,” said Arshad Mansoor, vice president of Power Delivery and Utilization at the Electric Power Research Institute. “This could be a key component in integrating large-scale intermittent renewables onto the nation’s grid system.”
The company is evaluating its options related to the project, but has not yet committed to development scope or timing. However, an initial phase could involve installing two to four units capable of generating a minimum of 268 megawatts (MW) of electricity. With 9.6 million cubic meters of storage, the Norton Energy Storage Project has the potential to be expanded to up to 2,700 MW of capacity.
Currently, there are two commercial-scale compressed air electric generating facilities: a 110 MW plant in McIntosh, Ala., operated by PowerSouth Cooperative that began service in 1991; and a 290 MW facility in Bremen, Germany, that has been in operation since 1978. While there are other compressed-air projects under development, none is expected to be comparable in size and scope to the Norton facility.
The Norton Energy Storage Project is part of FirstEnergy’s overall environmental strategy, which includes continued investment in renewable and low-emitting energy resources. In April, the company said it plans to repower units 4 and 5 at its R.E. Burger Plant in Shadyside, Ohio, to generate electricity principally with biomass. And, in September, the company announced plans to complete construction on the Fremont Energy Center, a 707-MW natural-gas-fired peaking plant located in Fremont, Ohio, by the end of 2010. Together, these projects would further reduce the company’s average carbon-dioxide emission rate, which already is about one-third below the regional average.
Compressed-air storage, when combined with renewable energy resources, provides for low-emitting power generation that is dispatched when customers need it. FirstEnergy currently has more than 800 MW of renewable capacity, including pumped-storage hydro and wind power. By the end of 2012, when the biomass project at the Burger Plant is complete, the company’s renewable capacity could be more than 1,000 MW.
FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company headquartered in Akron, Ohio. Its subsidiaries and affiliates are involved in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, as well as energy management and other energy-related services. Its seven electric utility operating companies comprise the nation’s fifth largest investor-owned electric system, based on 4.5 million customers served, within a 36,100-square-mile area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and its generation subsidiaries control more than 14,000 megawatts of capacity.
Forward-Looking Statements: This news release includes forward-looking statements based on information currently available to management. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties. These statements include declarations regarding management’s intents, beliefs and current expectations. These statements typically contain, but are not limited to, the terms “anticipate,” “potential,” “expect,” “believe,” “estimate” and similar words. Forward-looking statements involve estimates, assumptions, known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Actual results may differ materially due to the speed and nature of increased competition in the electric utility industry and legislative and regulatory changes affecting how generation rates will be determined following the expiration of existing rate plans in Pennsylvania, the impact of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s regulatory process on the Ohio Companies associated with the distribution rate case, economic or weather conditions affecting future sales and margins, changes in markets for energy services, changing energy and commodity market prices and availability, replacement power costs being higher than anticipated or inadequately hedged, the continued ability of FirstEnergy’s regulated utilities to collect transition and other charges or to recover increased transmission costs, operating and maintenance costs being higher than anticipated, other legislative and regulatory changes, revised environmental requirements, including possible greenhouse gas emission regulations, the potential impacts of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ July 11, 2008 decision requiring revisions to the Clean Air Interstate Rules and the scope of any laws, rules or regulations that may ultimately take their place, the uncertainty of the timing and amounts of the capital expenditures needed to, among other things, implement the Air Quality Compliance Plan (including that such amounts could be higher than anticipated or that certain generating units may need to be shut down) or levels of emission reductions related to the Consent Decree resolving the New Source Review litigation or other similar potential regulatory initiatives or actions, adverse regulatory or legal decisions and outcomes (including, but not limited to, the revocation of necessary licenses or operating permits and oversight) by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Metropolitan Edison Company’s and Pennsylvania Electric Company’s transmission service charge filings with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the continuing availability of generating units and their ability to operate at or near full capacity, the ability to comply with applicable state and federal reliability standards, the ability to accomplish or realize anticipated benefits from strategic goals (including employee workforce initiatives), the ability to improve electric commodity margins and to experience growth in the distribution business, the changing market conditions that could affect the value of assets held in FirstEnergy’s nuclear decommissioning trusts, pension trusts and other trust funds, and cause it to make additional contributions sooner, or in an amount that is larger than currently anticipated, the ability to access the public securities and other capital and credit markets in accordance with FirstEnergy’s financing plan and the cost of such capital, changes in general economic conditions affecting the company, the state of the capital and credit markets affecting the company, interest rates and any actions taken by credit rating agencies that could negatively affect FirstEnergy’s access to financing or its costs or increase its requirements to post additional collateral to support outstanding commodity positions, letters of credit and other financial guarantees, the continuing decline of the national and regional economy and its impact on the company’s major industrial and commercial customers, issues concerning the soundness of financial institutions and counterparties with which FirstEnergy does business, and the risks and other factors discussed from time to time in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and other similar factors. The foregoing review of factors should not be construed as exhaustive. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all such factors, nor assess the impact of any such factor on FirstEnergy’s business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. FirstEnergy expressly disclaims any current intention to update any forward-looking statements contained herein as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.
SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.