Lights Out For FPL Coal Plant, While Solar Powers Up

FPL coal retirement and solar rollout

Images: FPL

Florida Power & Light (FPL) has shuttered another coal-fired power station and brought four new solar farms online – with more to come.

The ageing 1,300MW St. Johns River Power Park (SJRPP) was officially shut down on Monday as it was no longer economical to operate. Closure of the facility will avoid more than 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually and save FPL customers an estimated USD $183 million.

SJRPP joins the Cedar Bay Generating Plant, which was retired in 2016. FPL’s Indiantown Cogeneration plant in Martin County is on track to close by the end of 2019.

While retiring coal fired power generation, the company has been going gangbusters on solar power. On January 1, four new Solar Energy Centers commenced providing clean electricity to FPL customers – Horizon, Coral Farms, Indian River and Wildflower; all of which are 74.5 megawatts. Within a couple of months, a further four 74.5MW facilities are expected to be operating.

The eight clean power stations are collectively comprised of approximately 2.6 million solar panels and represent nearly 600 megawatts of new PV capacity. These plants are projected to generate more than USD $100 million in savings for FPL over and above the cost of construction.

This clean energy transition is being delivered without imposing extra costs on its customers says FPL – the company states a typical customer bill is lower now than in 2008.

“The truth is progress like this doesn’t happen by accident. It’s because of our culture of responsible innovation and an unwavering commitment to customers that we’re able to deliver cleaner, more reliable energy while keeping electric bills among the lowest in the country,” said  FPL president and CEO, Eric Silagy.

FPL is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, with approximately 5 million customer accounts.

Dark Days For Coal Power In The U.S.

Coal power is having a hard time in the USA and it doesn’t look like things will get easier anytime soon, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) yesterday rejecting a Trump administration plan to prop up coal-fired and nuclear power plants with subsidies.

A recent Energy Infrastructure Update from FERC indicates 74 coal power generation units representing 20,650 MW capacity are to be retired by December 2020, with only 4 new units (1,927 MW) to be added during that timeframe. The update states coal generation capacity in the USA is around 23.83% of total installed capacity – and it would be lower now as a result of SRJPP’s closure.

It’s a very different outlook for solar power – 1,913 facilities (1MW+)  representing 43,528 MW capacity are expected to be added in the USA by December 2020, and 465 wind facilities (72,526 MW).

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Chris Thaler says:

    Good news again from the US. When will it be Australias’ turn for some good news of a similar nature?

  2. To complete the story, FPL have 2 nuclear power plants in Florida for clean base load energy.

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