MASONTOWN -- Borough council members did not react well Tuesday to news of Hatfield's Ferry Power Station closing.
FirstEnergy Corp. announced plans Tuesday to close the coal-fired power plant by Oct. 9.
“I think closing the plant will have a devastating effect on the community, but I'm more concerned about the families that will be affected,” Mayor Toni Petrus said. “The news has hit home -- family members, friends and neighbors. We need to support people who are losing their jobs.”
Council President Harry Lee noted how many coal-fired plants near and far up the Monongahela and Ohio rivers have been under siege or closed in recent years. He said electricity generated from coal-fired plants accounts for more than 50 percent of the nation's energy supply.
FirstEnergy said the Hatfield's Ferry Power Station and Washington County's Mitchell Power Station, which is also closing, account for 10 percent of the company's electrical generation supply.
“My concern is where are we going to make up the electricity from closing these plants,” Lee said. “It's got to hurt. That's an awful lot of electricity that we won't be able to generate any more. Maybe some powers above me have figured out the answer to how to generate this power. Somebody somewhere has to have the answer about what we are going to do to generate power. Closing power plants doesn't make any sense.”
Councilwoman Kim Essig said the power plant's closing will be felt by everyone.
“Hatfield Ferry closing is some of the most devastating news I've learned in a while,” she said. “Not only to everyone here in Masontown, but to so many others of our neighbors in Greene County also. Such a tragic loss of jobs to people trying to support families. And they're good jobs, stable, well-paying positions with good benefits in an area where such things are hard to find. It's not just the plant closing, it will have effects on the coal mine jobs, the trucking jobs, the maintenance jobs and the local tax revenue. To be sure, there will be pain.”
Essig said a piece of the community's heritage will be lost.
“So many of us grew up with coal being as common as water,” she said. “I, myself, am a coal miner's daughter, and my son-in-law is a coal miner today. It's not only the plant we're losing, it's another part of our heritage.”
In other matters, council:
n Approved a resolution to allow Cougar Land Services of Jefferson Hills to do seismic testing in the area. Testing sends sound waves into the ground so as to map out the natural gas potential. Meter readers monitor the vibrations to ensure there is no damage to utilities and structures.
n Approved mercantile licenses for Stick-It Welding, Fayette Parts Service and Woods Personal Care Home.
n The borough is accepting letters of interest for persons interested in serving on the Recreation Board.