Pleasants Power Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Pleasants Power Station is a 1,368.0-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station operated by Allegheny Energy Supply Company and owned by FirstEnergy, it is located at Willow Island, West Virginia.


The power station is located along the Ohio River in Willow Island, West Virginia.

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Allegheny Energy
  • Parent Company: FirstEnergy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,368.0 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 684.0 MW (1979), Unit 2: 684.0 MW (1980)
  • Location: Route 2, Willow Island, WV 26134
  • GPS Coordinates: 39.365889, -81.297306
  • Technology: Supercritical
  • Coal type: Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption: 8,550 tons/day
  • Coal Source: Tunnel Ridge Mine (Alliance Coal)[1]
  • Number of Employees: 160
  • Unit Retirements: Both units were scheduled for retirement in June 2022, according to the EIA database (April 2020).[2] However, PJM has since stated that the filed deactivation notices are withdrawn.[3]

Unit Retirement

On February 16, 2018, plant owner FirstEnergy said it planned to deactivate the coal-fired plant, which will be sold or closed on January 1, 2019.[4] In October 2018 FirstEnergy said it planned to keep operating the plant until 2022, at which point it would be transferred to the company's creditors under bankruptcy proceedings. The creditors can then decide whether to keep the plant open or retire it.[5]

The EIA 860m database of January 2020 showed both units with a planned retirement month of June 2022.

According to the PJM website, the deactivation notice for both units of the pleasants power station was withdrawn on September 17th, 2020.[3]

State Tax Exemption

In July 2019 the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill to exempt first energy from paying a $12.5 million tax The CEO of First Energy said that the company is operating in bankruptcy and will be forced to close the plant next year without the exemption. Lawmakers want to save the plant and the jobs of the 160 people working at the plant.[6]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 7,992,029 tons [7]
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 42,867 tons [8]
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 9,512 tons [9]
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 328 lb. [10]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Pleasants Power Station

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[11] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[12]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Pleasants Power Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 41 $300,000,000
Heart attacks 66 $7,200,000
Asthma attacks 640 $33,000
Hospital admissions 31 $720,000
Chronic bronchitis 24 $11,000,000
Asthma ER visits 33 $12,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Coal Waste Site

"High Hazard" Surface Impoundment

The Pleasants Power Station McElroy's Run Embankment, which stores coal ash from the Pleasants plant, is on the EPA's official June 2009 list of Coal Combustion Residue (CCR) Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not assess of the likelihood of such an event.[13]

Toxic Waste Data [14]

  • Arsenic Waste: 58,898 pounds
    • Air Release: 470 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 28 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 53,400 pounds
  • Chromium Waste: 87,876 pounds
    • Air Release: 651 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 26 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 87,200 pounds
  • Dioxin Waste: .631 grams
    • Air Release: .631 grams
  • Lead Waste: 51,532 pounds
    • Air Release: 609 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 49,010 pounds
    • Recycling (Metals Recovery): 1,910 pounds
  • Mercury Waste: 818 pounds
    • Air Release: 281 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 274 pounds
    • Recycling (Metals Recovery): 262 pounds
  • Nickel Waste: 73,633 pounds
    • Air Release: 630 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 680 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 72,300 pounds
    • Recycling (Metals Recovery): 23 pounds
  • Selenium Waste: 19,710 pounds
    • Air Release: 3,600 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 110 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 16,000 pounds

Accidents and Negligence

  • April 28, 1978 [15]
    • In process of completing the plant, 51 men died when their scaffolding collapsed, dropping them 170 feet to the ground.
  • October 10, 2002 [16]
    • Two painters fell 45 feet to the ground and died on scene while operating a lift with boom extended. The uneven weight distribution toppled the lift, causing the men to fall.
  • March 9, 2008 [17]
    • A helicopter removing construction equipment from the installation of a scrubber at the plant lost its tail rotor, causing the helicopter to become unbalanced, resulted in an emergency landing on the facility grounds.
    • The pilot sustained minor injuries and nothing at the plant was damaged.

Litigation and Controversy

  • June 29, 2005 [18]
    • The Pennsylvania State Department of Energy instigated a lawsuit against Allegheny Energy along with four other states for violations of the federal Clean Air Act. The Kammer/Mitchell plant was included in this suit.
    • They maintain that the company made modifications to the plant without adding increased pollution and emission control modifications as well, which is a federal requirement.
    • In addition, they did not ask for, and therefore did not receive, state approval for the work that was done.

Articles and Resources


  1. "EIA 923 January 2020" EIA 923 2020.
  2. "EIA 860m," EIA website, accessed April 2020
  3. 3.0 3.1 "PJM Generation Deactivations - Withdrawn Deactivations" PJM, accessed October 2020
  4. "FirstEnergy to Deactivate Pleasants Power Station in West Virginia," FirstEnergy, Feb 16, 2018
  5. "FirstEnergy West Virginia coal plant staves off 2019 deactivation," Utility Dive, Oct 22, 2018
  6. "House Advances Bill to Aid Struggling Coal-Fired Power Plant", July 22, 2019
  7. "Carbon Monitoring for Action: Pleasants (Willow Island) Plant Data". Center for Global Democracy.
  8. "Criteria Air Pollutants: Pleasants (Willow Island) Plant Data". Environmental Protection Agency.
  9. "Criteria Air Pollutants: Pleasants (Willow Island) Plant Data". Environmental Protection Agency.
  10. Environmental Protection Agency. "Toxic Release Inventory: Pleasants (Willow Island) Plant Data". Right to Know Network.
  11. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  12. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  13. Coal waste
  14. Environmental Protection Agency. "Toxic Release Inventory: Pleasants (Willow Island) Plant Data". Right to Know Network.
  15. "Tower of Death". Time Magazine.
  16. Denise Alex. "Federal Investigation Complete". WTAP TV.
  17. Lauren Hall. "Helicopter Accident at Pleasants Power Plant Update". WTAP TV.
  18. C.M. Mortimer. "Pennsylvania Files Suit Against Allegheny Energy Inc". Pittsburg Daily Courier.

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