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Updated: Alexandria, GenOn Agree to Permanently Close Power Plant

Deal says plant will be closed by Oct. 1, 2012 or as soon possible after that date to ensure power reliability.

The City of Alexandria and GenOn Energy have reached an agreement to shut the company’s Potomac River Generating Station by Oct. 1, 2012 or as soon as possible after that date to ensure reliability.

Alexandria will release approximately $32 million currently held in escrow, which was set aside to pay for the additional environmental controls at the station as a result of a 2008 agreement between the city and GenOn. 

“Today’s announce a testament to the power company and the city,” Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning. “The City Council and community have worked very hard for this goal.”

In a statement released earlier in the day, Euille said: “This news strengthens Alexandria’s future and opens the door to an enhanced quality of life for our residents.”

GenOn will coordinate with PJM Interconnection, Pepco and government regulators for the necessary notifications and approvals to close the plant, which began operating in 1949. 

“Retiring the facility next year makes sense for GenOn, but it is a difficult decision given the impact on the approximate 120 employees who work at the station,” said GenOn Chairman and CEO Edward Muller. “Our decision to retire the plant is not reflective of our employees’ skills, dedication or capabilities, and we will work to help them in their transition over the next year.” 

Euille said the city is ready to assist the GenOn employees who will lose their jobs with the plant’s closure.

City spokesman Tony Castrilli said the agreement developed quickly overnight. Bill Skrabak, a deputy director with the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, said the deal was the product of more than three months of discussions.

The plant currently works well under its capacity to power portions of Washington, D.C. It does not provide electricity to Alexandria. Skrabak said their have been entire months where the plant has not been operational.

In July, .

Earlier in the summer, over emissions from the plant and their potentially harmful effects of residents of Southeast D.C.

to closely monitor the plant. The generating station has been a of the organization's Beyond Coal campaign.

"We applaud this decision by GenOn, and are pleased that all of the work this community has done over the past 10 years has paid off," said Phillip Ellis, a field organizer with the Sierra Club. "This decision is in the best interest of all parties involved. Retiring this plant will better health of our families and community, protect our environment and greatly enhance lives of residence living in northern Old Town."

Earlier this month, to close the plant and redevelop the land with residential, retail and commercial space.

Euille said city staff will come back to City Council in the fall and present an outline on how to move forward with the plant closure and what to do with the land.

Gina Baum August 30, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Way to go City!
Peter Farnham August 30, 2011 at 03:35 PM
So with what are replacing the power that will be lost by the closing of this generating station? And "beyond coal?" We have hundreds of years of coal reserves. It seems to me we figure out how to burn it cleaner so we can use it and cut our dependence on oil from the middle east. Hello?
Nick Lashinsky August 30, 2011 at 04:22 PM
We lived on Bashford Lane for three years and the plant is a blight on an otherwise pleasant part of the city. Great victory for the residents of North Old Town! Believe GenOn provided power for parts of D.C., not Alexandria. Pepco owns the land, but that's prime waterfront real estate; let's hope the city can develop it smartly. And not take 10 years to do it!
Maria Wasowski August 31, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Kudos to citizens and pols who've been working on this for years! Thanks for the boost, Sierra Club! We used to have black, greasy stuff on our outdoor furniture when the plant was operating. Maybe now we can start growing our own veggies and herbs without fear of eating it.
Carolyn Baker August 31, 2011 at 03:44 PM
A little respect please for the employees who will be loosing their jobs. Granted, there are many issues with this plant but people are affected as well - people who need to pay bills and feed their children.
James Kelley September 01, 2011 at 01:28 PM
Very excited about the plant's closure. Living within sight of the stacks for over eight years has had an adverse effect on our respiratory health. I sincerely hope the City makes good on their promise to assist those losing their jobs. Maybe some job retraining for the next year before the plant closes?
Paul September 01, 2011 at 05:40 PM
What will all you people who are cheering this shut down do when your electricity bills go through the roof and you will have to decide to pay for powering your espresso machines, electric cars, and I-pads, or sending your kids to a private school? In the short term, the electricity will probably come from another coal plant that is just as dirty. Did you even realize that a natural gas front group was behind this? Natural gas extraction, production, and storage are every bit as bad for the environment as coal. And what about the employees? Something tells me that any job they get, even with retraining is not going to pay what they made before. Those of you who wanted this should put your money where your mouth is and contribute to a fund to compensate them at least.
Paul September 01, 2011 at 07:34 PM
I know that it supplied electricity to DC, but the utility that owned it also paid taxes to Alexandria and it will take years to redevelop the site and bring back that lost revenue. I am not necessarily a fan of coal, but they were in the process of cleaning up their emissions and could have continued to operate if they deemed it necessary. This is a feel good measure that will benefit developers and natural gas industry. The plant does not pollute nearly as much as National Airport, ( I often can smell jet fuel even though I live less than 3 miles away), or the train and truck traffic that goes through town.
Lewis September 03, 2011 at 03:09 PM
"GenOn provided powers to parts of DC, not Alexandria". Congrats on perfectly capturing the infantile mindset of the plant's detractors. Those parts of DC will now turn to other sources for their power, depleting the pool of this commodity otherwise available to Alexandria. And do you people really think that a little job training is all it'll take for the employees to find jobs as good as they had, what with 9% unemployment? Maybe those of you in the Siera Club can give up an international trip this year (on gas guzzling jets) and contribute to a fund for their children.
Jeff September 04, 2011 at 03:50 PM
God Bless the Sierra Club!
Jeff September 04, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Lewis, years from now those children you care so much about of the soon to be unemployed plant workers will be grateful that they have a habitable planet and they will have the Sierra Club to thank along with those of us who give a damn about the world. What is infantile is the mindset of people like you who seem to think we can exhaust our natural resources without consequences. You just come across as an idiot who doesn't have a clue.
JohnFitzgerald November 14, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Should the GENON site be included as part of the City's current waterfront plan? As of April 2011, the City certainly thought it was in the affected area. What changed? The city posted signs about the 'upcoming' May hearing around the plant. Here in this video shot on November 11, 2011 (6 months after the hearing!), a sign was STILL posted to a light post adjacent to the plant.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdbUcs1B7Jo

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