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Controversial Va. power plant will close in 2012

Tuesday - 8/30/2011, 3:07pm  ET

Hank Silverberg,

WASHINGTON -- A power plant that has irritated an Alexandria neighborhood for decades is going to close October 2012.

The city has announced an agreement to close the GenOn Energy Power plant along the Potomac River, more commonly known as the Mirant facility. It has operated since 1949 burning coal to produce power.

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille says the plant was no longer economically viable and it was clear it did not belong in a populated metropolitan area.

"This plant never should have been where it is anyway since day one, but certainly not to continue to operate in the environment of a metropolitan area," he said.

The plant employs 120 people.

Residents in the neighborhood near the facility have complained for years about ash from the plant, which has been forced to scale back to comply with the Clean Air Act.

Houston-based GenOn Energy will get back about $32 million the city had held in escrow to be used for additional environmental controls under an agreement signed in 2008. The facility had been operating on a limited capacity since then.

The power from the plant is sold to Pepco.

Government regulators could still insist that the plant stay open past the closure date if it is needed for the reliability of the electric grid.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)