Advanced Power North America, a subsidiary of Switzerland’s Advanced Power AG, said it plans to build a 700 MW power plant fueled by natural gas in Carroll County, OH, an $800 million project in the heart of the Utica Shale.

Meanwhile, FirstEnergy Corp. said it plans to shutter two coal-fired power plants in western Pennsylvania by early October.

According to reports, Advanced Power’s Carroll County Energy LLC plans to build and operate the combined-cycle facility on a 77-acre site about two and a half miles north of Carrollton. The company chose the site because of its proximity to transmission lines owned by American Electric Power, and to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which would provide fuel.

Advanced Power said it has submitted plans for the facility to the Ohio Power Siting Board, and management believes it will take regulators up to one year to approve or not approve the project. Construction could begin by the end of 2014, with the completed power plant creating about 30 full-time jobs.

“With Ohio’s electricity needs continuing to grow, and some 5,800 MW of conventional coal-fired power plants scheduled for retirement by the end of 2015 in Ohio, Carroll County Energy will help fill our generation needs with clean American natural gas,” project manager Jonathan Winslow said. “This facility can be aptly described as ‘efficient generation from a small footprint.'”

Akron, OH-based FirstEnergy said Tuesday its decision to deactivate Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Masontown, PA, and Mitchell Power Station in Courtney, PA was based on the cost to keep the coal plants compliant with current and future environmental regulations. The continuing low market price for electricity was also a factor.

FirstEnergy said the total capacity for both plants is 2,080 MW, which represents about 10% of the company’s total generating capacity. The plants also represent about 30% (or $277.5 million) of the estimated $925 million it would cost to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), the company noted.

FirstEnergy, which serves customers in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, said the plant closures would affect 380 jobs. Once the two plants are closed, the company’s generation portfolio would have a combined 18,000 MW of capacity, with 56% coal, 22% nuclear, 13% renewables and 9% combined-cycle (natural gas and oil).

Last month President Obama derided coal-fired power plants and pledged support for natural gas (see Shale Daily, June 26). At the same time, analysts and state regulators are trying to keep abreast of market trends and challenges in other states, respectively (see Shale Daily, July 9; June 28).