| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Electricity company Dayton Power & Light said on Monday it would shut down two coal-fired power plants in southern Ohio next year for economic reasons, a setback for the ailing coal industry but a victory for environmental activists.
Republican President Donald Trump promised in his election campaign to restore U.S. coal jobs that he said had been destroyed by environmental regulations put into effect by his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.
Dayton Power & Light, a subsidiary of The AES Corporation, said in an emailed statement that it planned to close the J.M. Stuart and Killen plants by June 2018 because they would not be “economically viable beyond mid-2018.”
Coal demand has flagged in recent years due to competition from cheap and plentiful natural gas.
The plants along the Ohio River in Adams County employ some 490 people and generate about 3,000 megawatts of power for coal.
The closure follows negotiations between Dayton Power & Light, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and stakeholders like the environmental group the Sierra Club over whether the company should be allowed to raise electricity prices to pay for upgrades to keep the plants open.
“They are by far our largest employer and it will absolutely be devastating to our community here in Ohio,” Michael Pell, president of First State Bank in Winchester, Ohio, said in a telephone interview. Pell, one of several local community leaders who have lobbied to keep the plants going, has become a spokesman for Adams County on the issue.
He said that as the industry moves away from coal, state and federal authorities should help the county create other jobs and clean up environmental damage from the plants.
The Sierra Club, which has been advocating coal plant closures for years to help combat pollution, argued that they were a bad investment. The group’s “Beyond Coal” campaign director, Bruce Nilles, said the…