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Allegheny Energy

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Allegheny Energy
Type Public (NYSEAYE)
Headquarters 800 Cabin Hill Dr.
Greensburg, PA 15601
Area served PA, MD, WV, VA
Key people Paul J. Evanson, CEO
Industry Electric Producer and Utility
Products Electricity
Revenue $3.31 billion (2007)[1]
Net income $412 million (2007)[1]
Employees 4,355 (2007)
Divisions Allegheny Energy Supply Co.
Allegheny Power
Subsidiaries West Penn Power Co. (PA)
Monongahela Power Co. (WV)
Potomac Edison Co. (MD, VA, WV)
Website AlleghenyEnergy.com
  • In 2011 Allegheny Energy was acquired by FirstEnergy.

Allegheny Energy is an investor-owned electricity utility which, through its subsidiaries Allegheny Energy Supply Company and Allegheny Power, operates power stations and delivers electricity to customers in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. On its website it states that "approximately 95% of our power output comes from coal. We burn nearly 19 million tons of coal annually."[2]

In February 2010, FirstEnergy announced plans to buy Pennsylvania's Allegheny Energy for $4.7 billion in stock to create one of the largest U.S. utilities. Together, the companies would include ten electric distribution utilities with six million customers and approximately 24,000 megawatts of generating capacity across seven states – Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. The company will have approximately $48 billion in assets and $16 billion in annual revenues.[3] The merger was approved and closed on February 25, 2011.[4]

Power portfolio

Out of its total 9,290 MW of electric generating capacity in 2005 (0.87% of the U.S. total), Allegheny Energy produces 82.2% from coal, 16.4% from natural gas, 0.8% from oil, and 0.6% from hydroelectricity. Allegheny owns power plants in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee.[5]

Political contributions

Allegheny Energy is one of the largest energy company contributors to both Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress. These contributions total $160,722 to the 110th US Congress (as of the third quarter), the largest of which has been to Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) for $19,000. Rep. Murphy, for his part, has consistently voted with the coal industry on energy, war and climate bills.[1]

Contributions like this from fossil fuel companies to members of Congress are often seen as a political barrier to pursuing clean energy.

More information on coal industry contributions to Congress can be found at FollowtheCoalMoney.org, a project sponsored by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Oil Change International and Appalachian Voices.

Coal waste

EPA releases list of 44 "high hazard" coal ash dumps

In response to demands from environmentalists as well as Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, the EPA made public a list of 44 "high hazard potential" coal waste dumps. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not include an assessment of the likelihood of such an event. Allegheny Energy owns one of the sites, which stores coal combustion waste for the Pleasants Power Station located in West Virginia.[6][7] To see the full list of sites, see Coal waste.

2010 study linking coal ash and groundwater contamination

Coal Ash: One Valley's Tale

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Pennsylvania, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that is not currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[8] The report mentioned FirstEnergy's Bruce Mansfield Power Station and Allegheny's Hatfield's Ferry Power Station as both having groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[9]

Elevated levels of arsenic reported at Albright Station

On Feb. 7, 2011, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club released a joint statement saying Allegheny must clean up arsenic releases from the Albright Power Station that are flowing into the nearby Cheat River watershed. The groups said the releases violate the Clean Water Act, saying Allegheny's own information shows illegal arsenic discharges occurred between July and October 2010. Arsenic in drinking water can cause cancer, nervous system damage and other problems. The groups also claim that Allegheny is doing a poor job testing for selenium. The naturally occurring element is associated with coal mining in parts of West Virginia. Studies have found it's toxic to aquatic life and, in humans, high-level exposure can damage the kidneys, liver, and central nervous and circulatory systems.[10]

Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Allegheny's Hatfields Station

The study "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash," released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011, reported elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, a highly potent cancer-causing chemical, at several coal ash sites in Pennsylvania.[11] In all, the study cited 29 sites in 17 states where hexavalent chromium contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash as well as from studies by EarthJustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Sierra Club.[12][13][14][15] It included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin.[11]

According to the report, hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was reported at elevated levels at the following sites:[11]

  • Allegheny Energy's Hatfields Ferry Power Station coal ash landfill at 104 ppb (parts per billion) - 5,200 times the proposed California drinking water goals and 1.04 times above the federal drinking water standard.

A press release about the report read:

Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.[16]

According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.[11]

Allegheny Energy sues to overturn Pennsylvania town's coal mining ban

Blaine Township, a small town about 40 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, is trying to ban coal mining within its borders. The town has passed three ordinances that ban coal mining and require corporations in any industry to disclose their activities to local government. As of June 2009, Penn Ridge Coal LLC, a division of Alliance Resource Partners, and Allegheny Pittsburgh Coal Co., a division of Allegheny Energy, were suing the township in federal district court, charging that the ordinances violate their corporate rights.[17]

Blaine Township's supervisors said they seek to establish a principle of local self-government that will lead other communities to do the same. Blaine residents worry that coal mining would destroy their houses and disrupt water supplies. They also hope to block longwall mining, which removes tons of coal from underground without putting anything in its place, causing the land above to sag. According to attorney Tom Linzey of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, that township has pushed further than any of the 120 U.S. municipalities that have passed ordinances to curb corporate activity. Linzey predicted that the case would eventually go to the U.S. Supreme Court, although he was doubtful that the township would prevail.[17]

Existing coal-fired power plants

Allegheny Energy owned 22 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 7,636 MW of capacity. Here is a list of Allegheny's coal power plants with capacity over 100 MW:[5][18][19]

Plant Name State County Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions
Harrison WV Harrison 1972-74 2052 MW 14,200,000 tons 5,063 tons
Hatfields Ferry PA Greene 1969, 1970, 1971 1728 MW 8,959,000 tons 135,082 tons
Pleasants WV Pleasants 1979-80 1368 MW 6,722,000 tons 42,867 tons
Fort Martin WV Monongalia 1967-68 1152 MW 7,328,000 tons 87,565 tons
Armstrong PA Armstrong 1958, 1959 326 MW 2,099,000 tons 32,149 tons
Mitchell PA Washington 1963 299 MW 1,500,000 tons 742 tons
Albright WV Preston 1952, 1954 278 MW 1,200,000 tons 12,657 tons
Willow Island WV Pleasants 1949, 1960 213 MW 597,000 tons 8,611 tons
Rivesville WV Marion 1943, 1951 110 MW 230,000 tons 1,270 tons
R. Paul Smith MD Washington 1947, 1958 110 MW 401,000 tons 2,147 tons

In 2005, these coal-fired power plants emitted 43.2 million tons of CO2 (0.7% of all U.S. CO2 emissions) and 328,000 tons of SO2 (2.2% of all U.S. SO2 emissions).

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 Allegheny Energy, Inc., BusinessWeek Company Insight Center, accessed July 2008.
  2. Allegheny Energy, "About Us", Allegheny Energy website, accessed June 2008.
  3. "FirstEnergy to Buy Allegheny in $4.7 Billion Merger" NY Times, Feb. 11, 2010.
  4. FirstEnergy press release: "FirstEnergy-Allegheny Energy Merger Closes Effective Today", February 25, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
  6. Shaila Dewan, "E.P.A. Lists ‘High Hazard’ Coal Ash Dumps," New York Times, June 30, 2009.
  7. Fact Sheet: Coal Combustion Residues (CCR) - Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings, Environmental Protection Agency, June 2009.
  8. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  9. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  10. Tim Huber, "Allegheny faces possible water lawsuit in W.Va." Bloomberg, Feb. 7, 2011.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
  12. "Damage Case Report for Coal Combustion Wastes," August 2008
  13. U.S. EPA Proposed Coal Ash Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 35128
  14. EarthJustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and Sierra Club, "In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and their Environment," August 2010
  15. EarthJustice and Environmental Integrity Project, "Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites," May 2010
  16. "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer, Examiner.com, February 1, 2011.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Jon Hurdle, "Pennsylvania town fights big coal on mining rights," Reuters, June 15, 2009.
  18. Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
  19. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.

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