Central Iowa Power permanently shuts 66-MW coal plant

Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) said Nov. 15 that it has retired the Fair Station, a coal-fired power plant located along the Mississippi River in Muscatine County.

Built in 1960, the two-unit, 66-MW facility was acquired by CIPCO in 1982 through a lease agreement and subsequent purchase. Final closure of the plant has been approved by the Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO).

“Fair Station has provided reliable electricity to Iowans for over 50 years,” said Dennis Murdock, CIPCO Executive Vice President and CEO. “This was a difficult decision to make given its impact on the dedicated employees stationed there. The reality is the plant is no longer efficient to operate given today’s energy markets and federal environmental regulations.”

Three factors led to the decision to close the plant: a series of new federal environmental regulations, current energy market prices and overall efficiency of the power plant. Past upgrades to the facility include adding low NOx burners in 1998 and switching to lower sulfur coal in 2006 to reduce SO2 emissions.

Fair, which has not been running at full capacity in recent years, made up roughly 4% of CIPCO’s generation portfolio.

“CIPCO remains committed to meeting the power needs of our member cooperatives with reliable, affordable and environmentally-responsible electricity,” added Murdock. “Our members benefit from one of the most balanced and diverse electric generation mixes in the Midwest with 60 percent coming from carbon-free and emissions-free resources”

Fair ceased burning Nov. 2 upon depletion of the coal supply on site. The closure of the plant will result in the loss of 23 jobs by the end of 2013. CIPCO said it is still considering options for the future of the Fair Station buildings, equipment and site.

CIPCO’s wholly-owned generating facilities include Fair and the oil-and-gas-fired Summit Lake Generating Plant at Creston, Iowa. It also has a percentage ownership in NextEra Energy Duane Arnold LLC, which is a nuclear facility, and two coal-based plants located in Council Bluffs and Muscatine. CIPCO partnered with NextEra Energy Resources in purchasing 42 MW of wind energy from the Story County Wind Energy Center located near Colo, Iowa. Other wind resources have been purchased from the Hancock County Wind Energy Center at Garner, Iowa. The Elk Wind Farm near Greeley began commercial operation in late 2011 and CIPCO agreed to purchase the entire 41.25 MW of energy from this facility. It has other new wind capacity, as well.

CIPCO is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperative that generates and transmits power to 13 member-owned electric cooperatives and associations. CIPCO’s members collectively serve a population of more than 320,000 rural and urban Iowans located in 58 of Iowa’s 99 counties. CIPCO’s principal place of business is Des Moines, Iowa, with locations in Cedar Rapids, Creston, Montpelier, and Wilton.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.