Lakeland Electric Installing Gas-Fired Generator To Replace Retired Coal Unit

Lakeland Electric is building a 120 megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired generator on land owned by the Florida city to replace a recently retired, coal-fired plant.

The reciprocating internal combustion engine (RICE) is being supplied by MAN Energy Solutions, which will install the machine on the brownfield site. MAN has committed to a fast-track delivery of the equipment by July 2022.

The engine uses a heat recovery system designed to support the plant’s stand-by operation and “perfectly matches Lakeland Electric’s stated commitment to safely provide its customers with affordable, highly dependable, and sustainable electric services,” Wayne Jones, chief sales officer at MAN Energy Solutions, said in a statement.

The new engine has an efficiency rating of more than 50 percent, even at partial loads, and will contribute to Lakeland Electric’s commitment to improve the carbon dioxide footprint of its power generation fleet, Jones said. MAN will maintain the plant under a service agreement for the next 10 years.

In December, Lakeland Electric announced plans to close Unit 3 of its McIntosh coal-fired plant, which it owned with the Orlando Utilities Commission, which has a 40 percent stake.

Lakeland Electric found that the coal generator was requiring increasingly expensive repairs while showing declining efficiency and unreliable performance. In addition, the large inventory of coal required to run the unit burdened the public power utility with a multi-million dollar risk should the unit fail.

At the time, Lakeland Electric said it would use its other natural-gas, diesel, and solar power generation capacity along with demand management, interruptible load, and power purchase agreements until replacement capacity could be built.

As part of its NextGen plan, Lakeland Electric plans to add five natural gas-fired internal combustion engines and increase its solar power and battery storage capacity by 2024.

The new natural gas generators will be more efficient and better able to manage the capacity fluctuations of solar power, Lakeland said, putting it on track to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 67 percent since 2001.