Panama City, FL-- Today, Gulf Power, operating under Southern Company, announced its plans to cease burning coal at the 357 MW Lansing Smith coal-fired plant by March 2016, marking a huge victory for Florida residents who will soon breathe cleaner air.
Sierra Club and hundreds of local citizens have urged Gulf Power to phase out coal in Florida’s panhandle to protect clean air and public health.
Gulf Power will work with the 60 impacted workers to transition into other company positions and there will be no mandatory layoffs.
“We applaud Gulf Power for recognizing the risks and costs associated with the continued reliance on dirty coal. We’ve seen time and time again, that toxic air pollution from coal-fired plants causes premature heart attacks, stroke, asthma attacks, and even death,” said Kelly Martin, Senior Representative for Florida’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “Gulf Power’s decision to retire Plant Smith is a positive step for Florida residents, one that that will leave our families and children breathing easier.”
Until now, the Lansing Smith coal-fired plant has been one of the largest local sources of hazardous mercury air pollution. Not only does Gulf Power’s decision improve public health, but it significantly reduces the amount of climate-disrupting carbon pollution the region contributes.
Last month, the Sierra Club applauded Gulf Power for its announcement to install three new solar plants at naval and air force bases in Northwest Florida. Sites at Eglin Air Force Base, Holly Field in Navarre and Sautly Field in Pensacola are slated for solar power projects totaling 120 megawatts, or enough power to keep the lights on at 18,000 homes each year. Combined, these projects increase in the state’s solar generation by 60% which currently stands at 218 megawatts. With these clean energy solutions, Gulf Power is taking beneficial steps towards promoting a healthy community and environment.
This is the second coal plant retirement in Florida that Gulf Power has announced in the last two years. With today’s announcement, 185 coal-fired power plants across the country have been slated for retirement.
UPDATE: On February 11, Gulf Power announced it will seek the Florida Public Service Commission’s approval to purchase power from a 180 megawatt wind project in Oklahoma providing enough power to 50,700 homes. Read Sierra Club's statement on the wind announcement here.