* Midwest Gen to shut Fisk plant in 2012, Crawford in 2014
* Companies have said 30,000 MW of coal power to be shut
Feb 29 (Reuters) - Midwest Generation, a unit of California power company Edison International, has agreed to shut two coal-fired power plants in Chicago, the company said on Wednesday.
Over the past few years, power companies have announced plans to shut or retire more than 30,000 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired generation due to proposed more stringent federal environmental regulations, weak power market conditions and record switching from coal to natural gas-fired generators as gas prices hold near 10-year lows.
(Factbox on coal units to retire: )
“Conditions in the wholesale power market simply do not give us a path for continuing to invest in further retrofits at these two facilities,” said Pedro Pizarro, president of Midwest Generation’s parent, Edison Mission Group.
Midwest Generation will shut the 326-MW Fisk plant by the end of the year and the 532-MW Crawford plant in 2014, the company said. The two units at the Crawford plant entered service in 1958 and 1961. The one unit still operating at Fisk entered service in 1968.
Also on Wednesday, U.S. power generator GenOn Energy Inc said it would shut seven coal-fired plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
An agreement to shut the Chicago plants was worked out between Midwest Generation, city leaders and community groups such as the Clean Power Coalition which includes the Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club said Midwest Generation still has four coal plants in Illinois and it expects the company “will be making critical decisions in the next several months with whether to make risky investments in retrofitting these old coal plants or choose to set retirement dates and invest in clean energy.”
The retirements are subject to approval by the grid operator, PJM Interconnection, which will determine whether the loss of the units jeopardizes the reliability of the grid.