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FPL Aiming To Close North Jacksonville Coal Plant

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A coal-fired power plant in North Jacksonville is being targeted for closure by Florida Power & Light Company. The utility company is asking the state Public Service Commission for permission to buy the Cedar Bay power plant.

Florida Power & Light Company wants to buy the plant on Eastport Road for more than $500 million by July.

Since the late '80s, the company has been under contract to buy electricity from the plant through 2024. But FPL's energy portfolio has changed since then, and it would now be more cost effective for Florida's largest electric utility to buy the plant and phase it out.

FPL spokeswoman Sarah Gatewood said, "It actually is a better deal for customers to buy the plant and shut it down rather than to continue to pay for the contract for the next 10 years."

About 65 percent of the power that FPL now generates comes from natural gas. Gatewood says two new pipelines scheduled to bring more natural gas to Florida by 2019 will increase that percentage.

Environmentalists are cheering the plans. Sierra Club representative Kelly Martin says the move is a win for public health.

"The Sierra Club aims to see a transition off of coal entirely in the coming decade," Martin said. "Coal is dirty from the cradle to the grave. So we applaud the decision."

The environmental advocacy group is pushing FPL to invest more resources in solar and wind power and energy efficiency. The company says it’s expanding its natural gas portfolio.

Peter Haden is an award-winning investigative reporter and photographer currently working with The Center for Investigative Reporting. His stories are featured in media outlets around the world including NPR, CNN en Español, ECTV Ukraine, USA Today, Qatar Gulf Times, and the Malaysia Star.