Jacksonville’s community-owned utility company is shutting down a large coal-fired power plant that’s served the area for 30 years.
The St. Johns River Power Park, which was co-owned for three decades by JEA and privately-owned utility Florida Power and Light, was responsible for generating 16 percent of JEA’s overall power. But, in recent years, through energy conservation and diversified power sources, it became obsolete, JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce said.
JEA CEO Paul McElroy said the closure offers “significant environmental benefits,” including reducing the utility’s carbon footprint by 30 percent and curbing nitrogen flows to the St. Johns River. But the move also means the power park’s 204 employees will now be out of a job.
“We regret that this move will result in job displacements for many dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled employees,” McElroy said in a news release. “Our team is fully committed to helping them by providing outplacement and training services, as well as a separation benefit package that reflects their years of service and dedication.”
Welders, electric workers and managers that staffed the plant will get priority in hiring at JEA and the opportunity to apply for jobs at FPL.
JEA owned 80 percent of the plant and FPL 20 percent. JEA will retain ownership of the property after the plant is decommissioned.
The original ownership agreement wasn't set to expire for another four years, but Boyce said FPL approached JEA about moving forward with the closure now.
JEA plans to reuse as many of the parts it can from the $1.45 billion facility and destroy the rest. The property will then undergo an environmental study to determine possible uses.
The St. Johns River Power Park was the largest construction project in Jacksonville’s history at the time it was built in the early 1980s.
JEA’s board of directors will have to give final approval to the decommission agreement.