KCP&L Will Retire Five Coal-Fired Units and One Unit Recently Converted to Gas

Kansas City Power & Light Co. (KCP&L) plans to retire five coal-fired generating units at two stations by the end of next year. It will also close, by December 31, 2019, a unit that was just converted from coal to gas last year.

The decision is part of “the company’s commitment to a sustainable energy future and balanced generation portfolio,” according to an announcement released on June 2.

The five coal-fired units being shuttered are Montrose 2 and 3, and Sibley 1, 2, and 3 (Figure 1). Lake Road 6, which always had the ability to burn natural gas, stopped burning coal entirely after changes were completed in May 2016. Gas became its primary fuel source at that time with fuel oil (ultra-low-sulfur diesel) as a backup. All of the units entered service in the 1960s, and none of them has a capacity greater than 364 MW. All told, 900 MW will be removed from service by the end of 2019.

1. Sibley station.
Unit 1 entered service in 1960, Unit 2 in 1962, and Unit 3—the largest at 364 MW—entered service in 1969. Courtesy: KCP&L

“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.

According to the company, several factors contributed to the decision to retire the units, including:

  • Decreased wholesale electricity market prices
  • Reduced need for capacity due to flat demand and cuts in reserve requirements
  • Advanced ages of the facilities
  • High environmental compliance cost expectations

KCP&L noted that wind energy has become “a much more economic generation resource for the region.” Last year the company announced plans to purchase an additional 500 MW of power from the Osborn and Rock Creek wind facilities. This year, KCP&L expects to increase its renewable portfolio to more than 1,450 MW, which is greater than 20% of its total generating capacity needs.

“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,” Bassham added.

Aaron Larson, executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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