By Editors of Power Engineering
Kansas City Power & Light Company announced it will soon retire six coal-fired generating units at the company’s Montrose, Lake Road and Sibley Stations.
The utility announced in 2015 plans to either retire the coal units or convert them to alternative fuel sources. Though one coal-fired unit at Lake Road Station was converted to natural gas last year, several emerging industry trends and changing circumstances lead the company to choose retirement.
“When these power plants started operation more than 50 years ago, coal was the primary means of producing energy. Today, as part of our diverse portfolio, we have cleaner ways to generate the energy our customers need,” said Terry Bassham, President and CEO of Great Plains Energy and KCP&L. “After considering many options, it is clear that retiring units at Montrose, Lake Road and Sibley is the most cost-effective way to meet our customers’ energy needs as we continue to move to a more sustainable energy future.”
Factors in the choice included low wholesale electricity prices, strong capacity for the foreseeable future, the age of the plants and expected environmental compliance costs.
KCP&L said wind energy sources have become a much more economic generation resource for the region. Energy generation from wind within the Southwest Power Pool grew 30 percent in 2016. Next year, KCP&L plans to increase its renewable portfolio to more than 1,450 MW, or more than 20 percent of KCP&L’s generation mix.
“In addition to our substantial renewable energy portfolio, KCP&L has the largest per capita energy efficiency portfolio of any investor-owned utility in the region,” said Bassham. “By retiring these plants, KCP&L is taking another step forward in our plan to provide cleaner, cost effective energy to our customers.”
KCP&L intends to retire all the Montrose and Sibley coal units by December 31, 2018. The Lake Road natural gas unit will be retired by December 31, 2019. Lake Road’s steam operations are not impacted by today’s announcement.