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KCP&L announces retirement of 5 coal units, 1 gas

Kansas City Power & Light Co. announced June 1 plans to retire six generating units at the company’s Montrose, Lake Road CT and Sibley power plants.

"After considering many options, it is clear that retiring units at Montrose, Lake Road and Sibley is the most cost-effective way to meet our customers' energy needs as we continue to move to a more sustainable energy future," Great Plains Energy Inc. and KCP&L President and CEO Terry Bassham said in a news release.

The company said it will stop burning coal at Unit 2 and Unit 3 of its Montrose station in Henry County, Mo., by the end of 2018. The Montrose units have a combined capacity of 340 MW. One 97-MW gas-fired unit at the Lake Road station in Buchanan County, Mo., will be retired by the end of 2019. The company noted Lake Road's steam operations will not be affected. Units 1, 2 and 3 at the coal-fired Sibley station in Jackson County, Mo., totaling 463 MW of capacity, are scheduled for retirement by the end of 2018.

The factors that contributed toward these decisions included the age of the coal units, expected environmental compliance costs and the lack of near-term capacity need, according to the company. KCP&L plans to invest in the wind energy sector and last year committed to buy 500-MW additional of energy from 200-MW Osborn and 300-MW Rock Creek wind projects, increasing its renewable portfolio to more than 1,450 MW in 2017.

The Great Plains subsidiary planned in 2015 to convert the plants to alternative fuel sources, just as the unit at Lake Road was switched to natural gas in 2016. But Great Plains said making "costly investments in the units does not make financial sense when compared to other generation sources."

According to SNL Energy data, the Montrose and Sibley plants were primarily supplied by Arch Coal Inc. subsidiary Thunder Basin Coal Co. in 2013, while the Lake Road facility received coal from Cloud Peak Energy Inc. subsidiary Antelope Coal LLC.

"By retiring these plants, KCP&L is taking another step forward in our plan to provide cleaner, cost effective energy to our customers," Bassham said.

KCP&L said the company will try to find job alternatives within the company for employees affected by the decision.