Florida Power & Light (FPL) on Dec. 21 announced plans to formally retire the Cedar Bay Generating Plant, a 250-MW coal-fired facility located in Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 31, 2016.
FPL purchased the independent power plant in 2015 with the intention of phasing it out of service in this time frame. Prior to the acquisition, FPL had been obligated to purchase power from the plant under a 1988 Power Purchase Agreement with the plant’s previous owners. That agreement had become uneconomic because FPL generates far cleaner energy today at a much lower cost by investing heavily in modernizing its system. After the plant has been closed down, FPL will dismantle the facility, a process that is expected to take approximately two years.
“Buying and shutting down old, inefficient coal plants is unprecedented in America,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “I’m very proud of our employees for proposing this innovative approach that’s environmentally beneficial and saves customers millions of dollars.”
The buyout and closure of the Cedar Bay plant is estimated to save FPL customers more than $70 million. In addition, it will prevent nearly 1 million tons of carbon emissions annually.
FPL is also in the process of purchasing and phasing out another coal-fired plant, this one located in Indiantown, Fla. Similar to the situation with Cedar Bay, this purchase of the Indiantown plant is projected to save FPL customers an estimated $129 million and prevent more than 657,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The Indiantown facility is expected to be shut down by the end of 2018.
FPL has also invested successfully to increase its use of zero-emissions solar power. In 2016, the company has installed more than 1 million new solar panels in Florida, and plans to install significantly more solar every year through at least 2020. The new panels were installed at three new universal-scale solar energy centers, which together will provide approximately 224 MW of generating capacity, making them among the very largest solar facilities in the eastern U.S. They are expected to begin generating power for FPL customers in the coming days.
Florida Power & Light is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts or more than 10 million people across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE).