Missouri town to end coal use at two power plants

The Independence city council on July 18 passed a proposed resolution directing the end of coal use at two power plants owned and operated by the municipally-owned Independence Power and Light (IPL).

The resolution also requires city staff to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy on city buildings and for expanding clean energy incentives for IPL customers, according to GenerationHub.

The resolution is the first formal action taken by the Independence City council on IPL’s future energy plans following extensive community discussion and debate on the issue, the Sierra Club noted in a July 22 statement.

The two plants set for closure, Missouri City and Blue Valley, are two of the oldest coal-fired power plants in the region. They burn high-sulfur coal from the Illinois Basin.

The city manager was authorized by the city council to end production of energy at the Missouri City power plant by Jan. 31, 2016, in compliance with the federal Industrial Boiler MACT rule. The city manager was told to produce a report outlining the options and associated estimated costs for the disposition of the Missouri City plant, ranging from retirement to demolition, by July 2015. The City manager was also authorized to cease the use of coal at the Blue Valley Power Plant by January 2016. Blue Valley will be switched to natural gas, a fuel the plant was initially designed to burn, for the limited hours the plant operates each year.

The resolution also sets a goal for Independence to triple its reliance on clean energy, calling for IPL to source 10 percent of its electricity supplied from renewable sources by 2018, and increasing to 15 percent by 2021.

“This is a turning point for Independence,” said Roger Hershey, a leader of Indy Energy, a community group that has promoted energy options for the city. “Independence will benefit for generations to come from this decision to move away from coal and towards a brighter clean energy future.”

The GenerationHub database shows Blue Valley with these coal-fired units: Unit 2 (25 MW nameplate), Unit 3 (65 MW nameplate) and ST1 (25 MW nameplate). The database shows that Missouri City has two coal units of 23 MW (nameplate) apiece.

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Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy's Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication's editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University.

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