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Sierra Club of Florida applauds FPL plan to buy coal-fired plant

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

It’s a little like dogs and cats living together – Florida’s largest electric utility and environmentalists on the same side of an issue. But here it is.

Sierra Club of Florida is applauding a move by Florida Power and Light asking the state for permission to buy a Jacksonville coal-fired power plant with the intent of shutting it down.

On Friday, FPL petitioned the Florida Public Service Commission for state approval to acquire the Cedar Bay Generating Plant, where utility has been buying electricity from since 1988. Cedar Bay is a 250-megawatt coal-fired facility located in Jacksonville.

If approved, FPL will end its contract, reducing the plant’s operations by 90 percent as the first step to phasing the plant out of service.

This plan will save FPL customers nearly $70 million and – the part that has won the approval of enviros — reducing carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 1 million tons annually.

Kelly Martin, of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, responded to the news with a statement:

“This announcement is a win for clean air, clean water, and public health. By phasing out coal burning at Cedar Bay, starting with a 90% immediate reduction in the plant’s operations, FPL will be reducing a major source of toxic emissions and threat to air and water quality in Duval County, Florida.  We urge FPL to commit to completely stop burning coal at Cedar Bay and to invest instead in solar, wind, and energy efficiency to create even more clean energy jobs in the Sunshine State.”

“Cedar Bay has been a significant source of carbon emissions for Florida since it first began operations. This phase-out shows that Florida can follow the national trend of moving beyond coal and develop a strong Clean Power Plan to reduce climate-disrupting carbon emissions, and demonstrates that utilities can meet new standards for clean air, climate change, and public health while benefiting Florida consumers.”

Temperince Morgan of the Nature Conservancy Florida chapter also celebrated FPL’s proposal, which has called “innovative approach to promote energy solutions that will help reduce emissions in Florida.”

The existing power purchase agreement between FPL and Cedar Bay costs $120 million a year, with annual increases through 2024. FPL would buy CBAS Power Inc., the indirect owner of the plant, from CBAS Power Holdings for $520.5 million to terminate the current contract.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates closing the plant would reduce carbon emissions equivalent to 100 million gallons of gasoline or switching more than 23 million incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights every year.

FPL is asking PSC approval of the purchase by July 31, as part of the plan to shutter the Cedar Bay plant permanently within the next two to three years.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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