No Future for Coal-Fired Power Plants in Florida

In its latest filing with state regulators, Progress Energy agreed with clean air advocates that retiring units 1 and 2 of the Crystal River coal-fired power plant in Citrus County and replacing it with cleaner sources is the most affordable choice for the utility. Progress Energy’s analysis showed that retiring the plant and replacing its power would save customers $1.32 billion in retrofit costs. Nationwide, utilities are finding that retiring aging coal-fired power plants and replacing them with cleaner sources of energy is saving consumers money and promoting clean air and public health. The Sierra Club, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Earthjustice call on Progress Energy to invest in twenty-first century energy solutions like solar energy and energy efficiency to power Florida’s homes and businesses.

“Retiring the Crystal River coal-fired power plants would be a win-win for Progress Energy, its customers, and for all Floridians,” said Frank Jackalone, with Sierra Club. “The best path forward is phasing out this plant quickly, protecting plant workers in the process, and replacing as much power as possible with a robust energy efficiency program and homegrown solar energy. Investing in twenty-first century energy solutions will lower costs for customers over the long term while boosting Florida’s economy – another win-win for Floridians.”

Progress Energy’s analysis was filed with the Public Service Commission, and can be found here.  

“We are pleased to see Progress Energy Florida continue pursuit of the closure of Crystal River Units 1 and 2. Retiring older coal facilities instead of investing in expensive retrofits is in the best interest of ratepayers and decreases the coal pollution burden on our air, climate and water,” stated Ulla Reeves, High Risk Energy Program Director with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “We urge PEF to move swiftly and with continued commitment to secure these units offline as soon as possible and we look forward to working with PEF to meet any future demand with increased energy efficiency.”

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is working to increase energy efficiency implementation in Florida and throughout the Southeast. Energy efficiency can meet electricity demand at a fraction of the cost of building new power plants. There is vast potential in Florida to meet demand through helping customers slash their energy use and save money on their bills through meaningful efficiency programs. Yet, the performance of the state’s largest power companies’ efficiency programs, including Progress Energy, pale in comparison to leading peer utilities in other states. The planned shuttering of the coal units provides a unique opportunity to Progress Energy to ramp-up its existing efficiency programs and introduce new, innovative programs to meet electricity demand that is now being met with dirty coal-fired power plants.

David Guest, managing attorney with Earthjustice in Florida, added, “Earthjustice has been fighting for years to stop the pollution from this 50-year-old dinosaur Progress Energy plant. We are encouraged to see that Progress is joining the rest of the planet in the move toward cleaner fuels. We all know now that burning coal is a dirty and outdated way to produce energy. Progress needs to do the right thing for its customers and shut these old units down — sooner rather than later.”

The Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Earthjustice are working with partners and allies across the country to protect public health and the environment by moving the nation beyond coal. Since 2002, 175 proposals to build new coal-fired power plants have been cancelled, and 144 existing plants are on a path to retirement. Clean energy is booming as states like Iowa and South Dakota generate more than 20% of their power from wind energy, and states like New Jersey and California are installing new solar projects to power homes and businesses each month.

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