First Energy may convert Hatfields Ferry coal plant to co-fire with natural gas

Birmingham, Alabama (Platts)--1 Oct 2012 140 pm EDT/1740 GMT

First Energy is studying natural gas pricing trends to determine whether it would be economical to convert its 1,710-MW, coal-fired Hatfields Ferry power plant in western Pennsylvania, to also burn natural gas, a company spokesman said Monday.

The low NOx burners at the Masontown, Pennsylvania, plant's three units are due to be replaced and the company is considering replacing them with technology that allows co-firing gas with coal, said the spokesman, Mark Durbin.

Gas prices would need to remain in the $2/Mcf-$3/Mcf range for the conversion to be economically favorable, Durbin said.

"Above that price, the numbers don't work," he said, noting that gas prices have been trending upward.

First Energy will continue to monitor gas prices and will make a final decision on the conversion in 2014, Durbin said.

It will cost $20 million per unit to convert the plant's three 570-MW units co-fire gas with coal, according to Durbin. Typically in such a unit, the two fuels would be blended with 25% to 40% gas and the remainder coal, he said.

The plant is located near a gas pipeline, Durbin said. The proximity to a pipeline also is critical to the economics of a conversion, Durbin said.

--Mary Powers, --Edited by Richard Rubin,

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