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Consol, FirstEnergy looking at clean coal plants

Consol, FirstEnergy looking at clean coal plants
NEW YORK - Consol Energy Inc. (CNX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and FirstEnergy Corp. (FE.N: Quote, Profile, Research) are looking at building coal-burning power plants with technologies that could reduce harmful emissions while still meeting electricity needs, the companies said.

The announcement came one day after American Electric Power Co. Inc. (AEP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said it planned to build at least one power plant by 2010 that will use technology that substantially reduces emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury and carbon dioxide.

Coal-fired power plants generate about half of the nation's electricity supplies, but few new plants have been built in the past 10 years because of uncertainty over federal clean air standards.

The joint task force set up by coal producer Consol, which has coal reserves in the eastern United States, and utility FirstEnergy, which owns power plants that convert coal into electricity, will evaluate whether technologies that use coal to generate electricity are commercially feasible.

"These advanced technologies will ensure that the conversion of coal to electricity is done in a manner consistent with the environmental objectives all Americans share," Brett Harvey, president and chief executive of Pittsburgh-based Consol, said in a statement.

FirstEnergy, based in Akron, Ohio, delivers electricity to customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Consol provides more than 7 million tons of coal a year to FirstEnergy plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The companies said it has been more than a decade since a new baseload power plant, which serves demand around the clock, has been built in Ohio, even as electricity consumption in the region has grown.

No timetable was formally set, but the companies said they hoped to identify technologies and projects that could start development over the next five years.

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