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Why This Coal-Fired Electric Plant in Florida Should Be Closed

October 01, 2015
David Schlissel

PrintThe aging C.D. Mcintosh Jr. Unit 3 power plant in Lakeland, Fla., should be retired.

That’s the inescapable conclusion of a study we published this morning in which we examine the operational costs and performance of the 33-year-old coal-fired plant.

It’s not a pretty picture. Unit 3 is not competing very well with other sources of electricity generation, and it will require additional capital expenditures—in addition to the $70 million poured over the past few years into keeping it running—as time goes by. The amount of electricity it has generated has declined precipitously since 2008, largely as a result of its unreliable operations and from competition by less expensive plants in Florida.

Lakeland Electric and the Orlando Utilities Commission, which share ownership of Mcintosh Unit 3, would be doing their public a favor by taking it off line.

Such a move would not reduce regional electric-grid reliability. If the 364-megawatt unit were to go dark, Florida would still have more than enough generating capacity to serve projected system loads and to provide the 15 percent capacity reserve margin needed to allow for unexpected power plant outages and unanticipated high system loads.

Here are some additional takeaways from our report:

  • If Mcintosh Unit 3 is retired, as it should be, its owners could purchase replacement power (if it’s required) from excess capacity at existing natural-gas-fired combined-cycle plants and save money for ratepayers by investing in energy conservation and solar photovoltaic resources.
  • Such a strategy would enable Lakeland Electric and the Orlando Utilities Commission to retire the plant without increasing their long-term dependence on natural gas.
  • Development of solar photovoltaic energy in Florida, the state with the third–highest potential for solar energy, is a no-brainer for municipal utilities and their ratepayers.
  • Energy efficiency is an exceptionally low-cost and underdeveloped alternative to keeping the plant alive.

In sum, the closure of Mcintosh Unit 3 would benefit the utilities that own it and the customers who rely on those utilities. The time is right to retire C.D. Mcintosh Unit 3 .

David Schlissel is IEEFA’s director of resource planning analysis.

 

 

David Schlissel

David Schlissel has over 30 years of experience as a regulatory attorney and consultant on energy and utility issues. He has testified as an expert witness before regulatory commissions in more than 35 states and before the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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