January 6, 2021 Read More →

Florida municipal utility moving forward with March closure of McIntosh coal plant

The Ledger:

City officials gave a thumbs up to Lakeland Electric’s plan to begin shutting down its aging coal plant this March, after the utility calculated the early shutdown could save $13.1 million over the next three years.

Lakeland’s utility committee unanimously approved a recommendation by Lakeland Electric to begin decommissioning its coal-burning C.D. McIntosh Unit on March 31. The plans will go before the City Commission for final approval on Jan. 19.

The municipal-owned utility’s plans to shutter the generator by fall of 2024 have been accelerated after a series of problems arose this summer. Unit 3 experienced prolonged outages from mid-May through September, according to General Manager Joel Ivy, and the repairs cost more than $5 million.

“It makes no sense to continue spending money on coal-based operation past March,” he said.

On March 31, Lakeland Electric aims to kick off a five-month transition and shutdown process to gradually end power generation. Ivy said that date could be pushed back a few weeks if needed to burn through the city’s coal reserves.

It will cost the utility company approximately $39.5 million over the next three years to close the plant, according to Gina Jacobi, LE’s assistant general manager of fiscal operations. Factoring other savings, the utility expects its net savings over three years to be $13.1 million.

[Sara-Megan Walsh]

More: Lakeland Electric touts $13.1M savings by shuttering Unit 3 early

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