The dismantling of a coal power plant in Pennsylvania could cost $5 billion and take years, and it’s not likely to happen soon, officials said Monday.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has until Sept. 5 to decide whether to grant a request by the American Coal Association to temporarily stop operations of the Morristown Power Plant, a project that began in the late 1990s but hasn’t been able to generate electricity since 2011 because of the plant’s burning of coal.
The agency will likely grant the request to take effect Sept. 15, but officials said the delay will not affect the agency’s decision to begin the process to shutter the plant.
The plant is the only coal-burning power plant of its kind in the country, according to the Pennsylvania Department.
The state estimates the shutdown will save $5.6 billion.
The cost includes the cost of the shutdown and other benefits, including $3 billion for the cost-sharing payments to the coal industry, the department said in a statement.
The PADEP is scheduled to make a final decision on the shutdown on Oct. 31.
It has until then to submit a report to the legislature, which will then determine whether the power plant should be shut down.
The plant’s operator, Murray Energy, has said it can’t survive without power.
It recently agreed to pay $4.3 billion to buy power from other sources in exchange for a state commitment to keep the plant open.
The Pennsylvania legislature in 2017 passed legislation to reduce pollution and pollution from power plants, but that bill was vetoed by Gov.
Wolf has said he’s not worried about the shutdown.
But he has called on Pennsylvania to get back to the “source-based” electricity system that has been proven effective, including solar and wind power, that can generate enough electricity to power nearly 70 percent of the state’s electricity needs.
The coal plant has been cited as one of the most environmentally harmful in the United States.
The Associated Press reported in 2017 that nearly 30,000 tons of toxic sludge was dumped at the plant every day, mostly into a river that flows through the town of Morriston.
The Associated Press