LAKELAND ELECTRIC ANNOUNCES TARGET DATE TO SHUTTER COAL-POWERED GENERATOR
LAKELAND, Fla. (December 22, 2020) – Lakeland Electric announces a target date of March 31, 2021, to shutter the utility's coal-powered generator, McIntosh Unit 3. "This was a difficult decision to make, but in the end, there was a compelling business case to shutter the unit this spring," said Joel Ivy, General Manager of Lakeland Electric. McIntosh Unit 3 is jointly owned with Orlando Utilities Commission, which owns 40% of the unit.
The coal-powered generator has required increasingly expensive repairs while showing declining efficiency and unreliable performance. In addition, the large inventory of coal required to run the unit represents a multimillion-dollar risk to the utility should the unit fail unexpectedly. An extensive analysis of these and other factors led to the decision to shutter the unit in 2021. "Our timeline for shuttering this unit has been by Fall 2024 or sooner. As we progressed this year, it became apparent that the risk was too great to operate the unit for an extended period," said Joel Ivy, General Manager of Lakeland Electric.
After shuttering the unit, employees operating the unit will begin a five-month shuttering process to get the unit to a steady-state. The shuttering of McIntosh Unit 3 will result in some positions being eliminated. Affected employees are eligible for a generous severance during the five-month shuttering process. The City of Lakeland and Lakeland Electric are assisting affected employees to find other positions in the City of Lakeland, helping with resume assistance, and providing training opportunities.
Lakeland Electric will use its other natural-gas, diesel, and solar power generation capacity along with demand management, interruptible load, and power purchase agreements until replacement generation capacity has been built. As part of its NextGen plan, the utility will add five natural gas-powered internal combustion engines, a significant increase of solar power, and battery storage by 2024. The new natural gas generators will be more efficient and better able to manage capacity fluctuation typical of solar power. With this plan, the utility is on track to reduce carbon emissions by 67% since 2001.
The City of Lakeland Utility Committee approved an advisory vote on the power generation replacement plan on April 6, 2020. The utility expects to borrow $150 million through a variety of options, including bonds. An estimated 3.5% base rate increase is expected by 2023, less than the rate of inflation, although changes in the credit markets could modify the financial outlook. Lakeland Electric believes this plan is the best long-term strategy to modernize the power generation portfolio and prepare the utility for a better operational, environmental, and financial future.
About Lakeland Electric: Lakeland Electric is the third-largest public power utility in the State of Florida, serving 131,000 customers with a production capability of over 900 Megawatts. The utility is also one of the first utilities established in Florida, having begun operation in 1889 before being purchased by the City of Lakeland in 1904. Today Lakeland Electric's 246 square mile territory serves the City of Lakeland and its environs with affordable, dependable, and sustainable electric power.
Do you feel like you are running around trying to fit everything into your everyday schedule? Our schedules can be filled with going to the grocery store, post office, work, school events… well, you get the picture. You can have a lot going on! Now, have you ever wished you could move your bill’s due date just one day or one week, so it aligns with your paycheck? If you answered yes, we are here to help! We are now offering a convenient solution to choose a due date that works best for you!
Our Pick Your Due Date program offers our customers the flexibility to choose a due date that works best for them. Customers who are receiving fixed social security or retirement benefits, employees who are paid monthly, or anyone wanting to better manage their budget may find benefit from this program. Pick Your Due Date is free, simple, and will not affect your billing or payment method.
Request a date that fits with your cash flow – for example, three days after you receive your paycheck. Some important points about the program:
You must be a residential customer.
Your account must be in good standing and owe no balance.
How to enroll:
Use our easy online form.
Or, call our Customer Service at (863) 834-9535.
Your account must be maintained current to continue in Pick Your Due Date.
Pick Your Due Date customers are not eligible for a Payment Arrangement.
We are here to make scheduling your bill easier. Now, go Pick Your Due Date!
When storms damage put communities in crisis, our Lakeland Electric team answers the call. On August 27, Hurricane Laura made landfall as a damaging Category 4 hurricane in Louisiana. Our mutual aid team was already on its way to provide assistance. The hurricane caused extensive damage and tied with the 1856 Last Island Hurricane as the strongest hurricane to make Louisiana's landfall.
Lakeland Electric’s first stop was in Layfette, Louisiana. Their public power utility, Layfette Utility Systems, was one of the first mutual aid teams to assist Lakeland during our recovery from Hurricane Irma in 2017. So it was with particular satisfaction that our team arrived in Layfette to return the favor to our sister utility.
For two weeks, our mutual aid team assisted communities affected by the storm. They traveled in Louisiana from Layfette to Abbeville, Alexandria, and Winnfield to help restore power. The communities in Louisiana welcomed our crews with open, albeit socially distant, arms. After long days of hot and hazardous work, a hot meal means a lot. Churches and community members opened their doors to serve our team home-cooked meals and their appreciation. One particularly welcome sight was an affectionately dubbed “dessert queen” who treated our employees to delicious homemade treats and made restoring power to these communities even sweeter.
Leaving for a mutual aid assignment means time away from home and family. It usually involves very long days and challenging work. Being part of helping to restore communities in need makes it worth the effort. Access to this national network for mutual aid assistance during storm recovery is just one of the great benefits of being a public power company. Lakeland Electric is proud to provide mutual aid assistance, and we know our fellow public power utilities will also be there to help us when we need them. Please join us in welcoming our mutual aid team safely home. If you see our employees in the field, give them a wave or a smile to say thank you.
Every year on August 26th, Lakeland Electric takes the time to remember the hard work our lineworkers do each and every day to keep the lights on in Lakeland. Our lineworkers are essential and are appreciated for keeping the electricity flowing to our customers. During the pandemic, they continue to work hard every day. These workers serve our community and face hazards so that we are able to enjoy the comfort of our homes and businesses. Without the dedication, hard work, and efficiency of our lineworkers, Lakeland would be a lot less bright.
Many of us take electricity for granted until it goes out. Lineworkers risk their lives every day in the name of public interest but are rarely celebrated as heroes. Their faces aren’t common on billboards, and they don’t have household names. They are workers who make sure the power stays on in homes and businesses across Florida. In the event of a disaster, they often pave the way for first responders.
Here at Lakeland Electric, we have top quality lineworkers. Their duties range from restoring electricity due to power outages, repairing fallen powerlines, quickly responding after storms, and so much more. While our lineworkers are on the job, their number one priority is safety for both themselves and the community. Being a lineworker is more than a job. Being a lineworker means being a part of a family that looks out for each other.
If you see a lineman on the 26th of this month or any other day, be sure to wave hello and thank them from a safe distance, of course. We’re sure they would appreciate it! And, the next time you flip on a switch or sit in the A/C remember the lineworker helped make it possible.
P.O. Box 32006
Lakeland, FL 33802-2006
501 East Lemon Street
Lakeland, FL 33801-5079
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