Westar Energy shutting out generating capacity at three Kansas locations

Westar Energy (NYSE:WR) announced plans on Oct. 13 to continue its transition to a cleaner, more modern electricity supply, which includes the phase out of old electrical generating equipment at three locations by year end.

“This equipment has served Kansas customers well for more than a half century, decades longer than ever imagined,” said John Bridson, senior vice president, generation. “However, to invest the tens of millions of dollars to upgrade this equipment to keep it operating safely doesn’t make sense. People are using less energy, so we no longer need these old, small generating units to meet peak electrical demand. Plus, the current price to add more renewable energy is a reasonable alternative, so we’ll add more renewable energy, as needed.

“Electricity and the air we breathe is cleaner today than it has ever been. During the past five years, we’ve reduced emissions and doubled the amount of renewable energy on our system,” Bridson added. “We knew environmental regulation was on the horizon. Now that it’s here – and more stringent than expected – we have to evaluate when to invest and update our equipment to meet new laws and keep our operations efficient. After next year, our emission-free energy will equal more than 40 percent of our retail demand.”

Gina Penzig, a spokesperson for Westar, said in an Oct. 15 e-mail to Generation Hub that the three units covered by the announcement will be closed by year end. They are still in operation at this point. All three sites have units that will continue to operate.

The units to be shut are:

  • Lawrence Energy Center Unit 3, which is a 48-MW coal-fired facility installed in 1954.
  • Hutchinson Energy Center Unit 4, which is a 176-MW natural gas-fired unit installed in 1965.
  • Tecumseh Energy Center Unit 8, which is a 130-MW coal-fired facility installed in 1962.

Westar Energy, the largest electric utility in Kansas, has about 7,200 MW of generation capacity fueled by coal, uranium, natural gas, wind and landfill gas.

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.