JEA power plant in Northside Jacksonville to close in 2018

A JEA power plant in Jacksonville's Northside area is shutting down, according to JEA authorities.

JEA and Florida Power & Light Co. officials said they will decommission the St. Johns River Power Park in early 2018.

The 1,252-megawatt coal-fired electric generating plant, which is owned jointly by JEA and FPL, was built in the early 1980s. JEA said it was one of the largest construction projects in Jacksonville’s history.

The plant last year produced half as much energy as it did 10 years ago. Closing the Northside plant will result in significant cost savings that could be used on projects that will benefit JEA’s customers, JEA said.

“This agreement is important for JEA and will allow us to right-size our power generation capabilities while offering significant environmental benefits to the community,” said JEA CEO Paul McElroy.  “The operational savings we will realize will help us address capital needs and pay down debt to keep rates stable."

McElroy said the plant's shutdown will leave 204 people without jobs, but the company is providing training services and benefit packages to those employees. Employees at the plant will also be offered employment opportunities for positions at JEA and FPL.

“We’ve been extremely proud to partner with JEA at SJRPP to provide reliable power for both utilities’ customers for three decades. Now, however, it makes financial and environmental sense for all of our customers to close this coal plant,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL.

Silagy said closing the plant will save millions of dollars annually and will significantly reduce gas emissions in Florida.

The proposed agreement still needs final approval from JEA’s board of directors and other regulatory agencies.