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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.

Updated: Alexandria, GenOn Agree to Permanently Close Power Plant Updated: Alexandria, GenOn Agree to Permanently Close Power Plant

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.

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