Gulf Power announces retirement of Plant Smith coal units

Panama City, Florida -- - Gulf Power has announced plans to retire two of its coal-fired electric generating units located near Panama City, Florida in March 2016.

The company said stricter regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency have forced the retirement of Coal Units 1 & 2 at Plant Smith — units that have operated since the mid-60s. When Gulf Power evaluated the cost to meet EPA regulations, the utility decided it would be in their customers’ best interest to retire the units.

Plant Smith will continue to operate and produce electricity with its state-of-the-art combined-cycle natural gas unit, which went into service in 2002. Through careful planning, plant employees assigned to the coal units will be transitioned to other jobs within the company.

Plant Smith’s coal units can produce a total of 375 megawatts.

“Employees at Plant Smith have ensured Units 1 & 2 have been workhorses for our system for nearly 50 years,” said Stan Connally, Gulf Power president and CEO.

“And this plant will continue to provide affordable, reliable electricity for our customers well into the future with our natural gas unit.”

Even with the retirement of the coal units, Gulf Power will still be able to supply enough electricity for its customers in Northwest Florida — that includes electricity from flagship coal facility Plant Crist, which added a $650 million scrubber in 2009. In addition, the utility is part of Southern Company and interconnected with sister companies Georgia Power, Mississippi Power and Alabama Power.

“To the employees who worked the coal units at Plant Smith we say ‘thank you’ for the outstanding job you’ve done to serve our customers,” said Connally. “And looking toward the future we’ll continue to ensure a diverse, affordable generation mix that serves our customers for years to come.”

In 2013, Gulf Power announced that Plant Scholz, a coal-fired generating plant in Sneads, Fla. would be forced to close because of new EPA regulations. The plant is scheduled to close in April 2015 after more than 60 years of service to Gulf Power customers.

At one time, Plant Scholz was Gulf Power’s flagship plant. Its two generating units can produce a total of 100 megawatts. Scholz employees who are not planning to retire also will be transitioned to other jobs within the company.

Gulf Power continually evaluates its generation needs, looking at many variables including forecasted demand, cost-effective generation technologies and upcoming regulations.


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