Statement in Support of Closing Lakeland Coal Plant McIntosh Unit 3 and Tripling Solar Commitment

April 17, 2019
Contact: Alissa Schafer, SACE, 865-235-1448, [email protected]

LAKELAND, FL – Yesterday, Lakeland Electric’s General Manager shared with City Commissioners that he is likely to recommend the retirement of the 364MW coal-fired C.D. McIntosh boiler Unit 3 due to rising maintenance costs it as it nears 40 years in operation. Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) owns 40% of the coal-fired unit. Several other small coal-fired generators in Florida have closed for similar reasons in recent years.

In its place, Lakeland will consider tripling its solar commitment from 15MW to 45MW, and building a new gas-fired generator. Such a solar commitment would bring the utility from 161 watts per customer to 430 watts per customer by 2022, bumping them up in state rankings of utilities, although still leaving the utility below the state’s average amount of solar per customer (currently projected at 626w/customer by SACE’s 2018 Solar in the Southeast report).

SACE and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis released a report in 2015 entitled, “The Time is Right to Retire McIntosh Unit 3,” which concluded that capital costs at the plant had increased and were likely to continue to do so, energy efficiency and solar could assist the utility in taking the plant offline, and that retiring the plant would have no adverse effect on the utility grid.

In response to the retirement recommendation, SACE Florida Director Susan Glickman stated,

“We support Manager Ivey’s recommendation to close down McIntosh Unit 3 before it becomes an even greater burden to families and businesses. We urge Lakeland decision-makers to continue to grow their innovative leadership on energy efficiency and hope they see an additional 30MW of solar as a start, not an end. Finally, we caution utility leaders not to over-invest in new gas-fired capacity that would prolong dependence on fossil fuels with costs that are hard to control.”