FirstEnergy will reduce operations at some of its smaller coal-fired units to cope with the continued slow economy and lower demand for electricity.

Operational changes made to its Bay Shore units 2-4, Eastlake plant units 1-4, Lake Shore Plant and the Ashtabula Plant, all in Ohio, will reduce operating costs and provide more predictability while maintaining availability for future operations.

FirstEnergy executive vice president Gary R. Leidich said that due to low demand, its smaller, load-following plants have been called upon to operate less frequently.

“By reducing operations at these facilities, we will better match our generation with our expected customer loads and position our company to comply with ever-increasing environmental regulations,” Leidich said.

Between September 2010 through August 2011, the units will operate with a minimum three-day notice and in response to customer demand, such as during summer and extreme winter weather conditions.

Beginning September 2011, for about one-and-a-half years, the Bay Shore and Eastlake units will operate only in the winter and summer months, and the Ashtabula and Lake Shore plants will be temporarily idled.

The affected units, which have a total generating capacity of 1,620MW, produced about 6.8% of the firm’s total generation output in 2009.