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FirstEnergy Converting Ohio Coal Plant to Biomass

FirstEnergy Corporation will invest approximately $200 million to convert a 54-year-old coal-fired power plant in Ohio to burn biomass, according to a joint statement from the company and the Ohio governor's office. The R.E. Burger plant, located on the Ohio River just south of Shadyside, Ohio, will be retrofitted to burn grass and wood cubes that will be grown and produced in Ohio. At full production in 2012, the plant is expected to produce up to 312 megawatts of energy, enough to power approximately 190,000 homes. "Retrofitting the Burger Plant for biomass will expand our diverse generation portfolio even further and will continue our support of state and federal efforts to increase reliance on renewable energy sources," says Anthony J. Alexander, FirstEnergy's president and CEO. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that fast-growing, bio-engineered cottonwood trees and grasses will be grown and pressed into cubes at new factories built by a subsidiary of Ohio-headquartered Cliffs Natural Resources; approximately 100 new direct jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs are expected. The Plain Dealer also reports that FirstEnergy will be given full credit under a new Ohio law that requires utilities to use renewable technologies to generate 12.5 percent of the power they sell by 2025, but that some environmental groups are unhappy because the law was intended to force utilities to build solar and wind plants.

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