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Florida Power & Light to shut down 250-MW Cedar Bay coal plant on New Year's Eve

Florida Power & Light Co. is shuttering its Cedar Bay Generating coal power plant by the end of 2016.

The NextEra Energy Inc. subsidiary announced on Dec. 21 a formal retirement date of Dec. 31 for its 250-MW coal plant in Jacksonville, Fla. According to FPL, the uneconomic plant's closure will save ratepayers more than $70 million and prevent the emission of nearly a million ton of carbon dioxide a year.

The Florida utility purchased Cedar Bay in 2015 from The Carlyle Group LLC for $520.5 million with the intention of retiring it. Prior to its acquisition, FPL was under obligation to procure electricity from the plant under a 1988 power purchase agreement.

"Buying and shutting down old, inefficient coal plants is unprecedented in America," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL, in a news release. "I'm very proud of our employees for proposing this innovative approach that's environmentally beneficial and saves customers millions of dollars."

The retirement of Cedar Bay and FPL's investment strategy into cleaner energy was praised by Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida, a conservation organization. "Cedar Bay is an example of FPL being one of the cleanest and most reliable electric utilities in the nation," Draper said.

FPL is also in the process of buying another coal plant in Indiantown, Fla., from subsidiaries of Ares Owners Holdings, L.P. with the intention of retiring it by the end of 2018. In October Florida regulators approved the $451 million sale of the 330-MW Indiantown Cogeneration Facility. Like Cedar Bay, FPL also has a costly power purchase agreement with Indiantown. According to FPL, the phase out of the Indiantown plant will save FPL customers an estimated $129 million and prevent 657,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.