The Homer City Generating Station, the 1,888MW coal-powered plant located in the Indiana County, Pennsylvania will be shut down next month, according to the plant’s owners.

Owned by hedge funds and private equity firms, the facility is operated by the US-based nuclear electric power generation company NRG Energy.

The coal-power plant, which started generating electricity in 1969, will be retired after providing power to Pennsylvania and New York, almost for five decades.

Homer City power plant was designed to provide baseload power, operating almost continuously, to meet the minimum power demand in the region.

It was built near coal reserves and included the then high-capacity 345kV transmission line to service areas in western New York and eastern Pennsylvania.

In 1999, the Homer City power plant was sold for $1.8bn, as part of the Pennsylvania state’s deregulation of the electricity market.

During that time, coal-fired generation accounted for about 53% of the country’s power supply, while natural gas only accounted for about 12%.

Currently, the roles have nearly reversed, where natural gas became a source for 40% of the electricity in the US, and coal’s contribution dropped to 20%.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that coal plants across the US are retiring, where coal-fired capacity has reduced from 313GW in 2005 to around 196GW, currently.

According to EIA, coal plants have struggled to compete in the US power markets, against new and more effective natural gas-fired, combined-cycle power plants.

In 2001, the new emissions standards under the Clean Air Act required the power plant to install FGD scrubbers on Unit 3, and on Units 1 and 2 in 2014.

The ownership of the power plant changed after its bankruptcy in 2017.

With the start of natural gas production from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in the region, several new natural gas-fired power plants were built in Pennsylvania.

The new natural gas-fired plants made the Homer City power plant dispatch more intermittently for load following, instead of baseload.

Load-following plants adjust their power output as per the electricity demand, while baseload power plants are usually run at near maximum output, unless maintenance or repairs.

The changes increased the annual maintenance costs for the Homer City plant, in addition to the debt incurred from the pollution control upgrades.

The coal-power plant has become less competitive and its capacity factor dropped, said EIA.