Coal has long been one of the most widely-used sources of energy in the United States, with the nonrenewable resource being the single most popular fuel until the middle of the 1950s. Coal mining started to dwindle in popularity in the United States once American society’s general concern for the environment began to increase around the 1960s.
This isn’t to say that coal has disappeared from use in the United States, however, as it currently is ranked – using 2017 data, that is – as the third-most popular form of fuel across the country by the United States Energy Information Administration, behind natural gas and petroleum, respectively, and ahead of renewable energies and nuclear electric power in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
As you know, the Appalachian Mountains have been the heart of all things coal in the United States for a long time. The mountain range goes as far south as Georgia and as far north as New York, hitting Pennsylvania along the way.
Western Pennsylvania’s tiny town of Shippingport is home to the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant, the largest power plant that’s fired by coal in the state.
FirstEnergy Solutions Corp., which is currently bankrupt, is the owner of the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant. According to the company, Bruce Mansfield will be shutting down in just a few months, with full closure scheduled for Nov. 2019.
The Bruce Mansfield Power Plant was slated to be shut down roughly two years from now, toward the end of 2021. However, due to a failure by FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. to handle the current market conditions and stay afloat – the company citing a “lack of economic viability” – the single coal-fired unit remaining at the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant will be shutting down far, far sooner than expected.
One of several big hits that FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. has taken on the chin is a loss in federal court to Local 272 – a group of roughly 230 workers, all of whom work at Bruce Mansfield in Shippingport – a union that’s part of the IBEW, or the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
IBEW Local 272 managed to scourge up about $5.5 million in previously-thought-to-be-lost wages as a result of its lawsuit, claiming that FirstEnergy Solutions effectively made it extremely difficult for the workers to labor away after FirstEnergy was unable to make progress in its negotiations for a new, improved, fair contract with IBEW Local 272.