Lakeland Electric got approval to move forward with decommissioning Unit 3 this March. It has struck a $23.4 million deal to close its power gap. Lakeland commissioners unanimously approved Lakeland Electric’s plan to begin decommissioning McIntosh Unit 3 on March 31, three years ahead of the prior timeframe of fall 2024. This will permanently end the city’s coal operations.
“It makes no sense to continue spending money on coal-based operation past March,” Joel Ivy, Lakeland Electric’s general manager, previously told city commissioners.
Ivy said the utility spent significant money fixing various issues with Unit 3 last summer, causing the coal plant to be frequently offline. Lakeland Electric has estimated it can save $13.1 million by decommissioning Unit 3 early. On March 31, Lakeland Electric aims to kick off a five-month transition and shutdown process to gradually end power generation. Approximately 60 LE employees are at-risk of being laid off.
The nearly 40-year-old generator is capable of producing up to 360-megawatts of electricity to power to Lakeland homes and businesses. Ivy has previously said the closing Unit 3 will leave the utility approximately 135 megawatts short of meeting the city’s energy demands.