Utility pondering future of aging coal-fired power plant

Associated Press

Utility pondering future of aging coal-fired power plant

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City utility says its Missouri City power plant would cost too much to decommission or tear down, so for now the coal-fired plant north of the Missouri River will remain on standby.

Independence Power and Light last used the plant last summer when demand for electricity peaked, The Independence Examiner reported. Now, company officials are trying to figure out how to deal with the plant without costing ratepayers a lot of money.

Federal regulations on emissions from burning coal are forcing either the closure or costly refitting of older plants by early next year. IPL's larger Blue Valley plant was switched to natural gas this summer, but doing the same at the 60-year-old Missouri City plant would cost too much, said Leon Daggett, IPL's director.

"We're totally done with coal in our system," Daggett said.

Customers will continue to get most of their electricity from coal for many years, he said, with most of IPL's electricity coming from Kansas City Power and Light's Iatan II plant near Weston and from a plant in Nebraska. Both are coal-fired plants that have long-term contracts with IPL.

Use of the plant, which went online in 1954, has been tapering off for decades.

A consultant's report from this summer estimated the cost of decommissioning the plant at more than $925,000, in addition to ongoing upkeep. The cost of dismantling the plant was estimated at more than $17 million.

Converting the plant to burn either natural gas or biomass would be considerably more expensive, according the study conducted by Sega Engineering and Technical Services.

The utility had been considering closing the Missouri City plant for years and had put off a good deal of maintenance, the consultants noted.

"Keeping the Missouri City plant in service, regardless of fuel type, will now require significant deferred major maintenance expenditures, as well as insurance and environmental regulatory upgrades," Sega said.

Instead, Daggett said it will be on standby as the city waits for possible offers to buy the plant and convert it to another fuel source, such as biomass.

"We still have people making offers to run the plant," he said. "At this point, I would term them as ridiculous offers."

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