- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City Power & Light plans to reduce its use of coal in Missouri by closing or converting three units to natural gas beginning next year.

Utility officials announced Tuesday that the changes will be made at generating units in Clinton, Sibley and St. Joseph, which generate about 700 megawatts of power, about 19 percent of its coal-generating capacity.

The changes are in response to tougher federal environmental regulations that would have required significant investments in the units, KCP&L; CEO Terry Bassham told The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1CABdDX ).

“After evaluating options for future environmental regulation compliance, ending coal use at these plants is the most cost effective and cleanest option for our customers,” Bassham said.

The utility’s Montrose power plant in Clinton will stop using coal completely, with one of the plant’s generating units closed or converted to natural gas by 2016 and the remaining two units closed or converted by 2021, the utility said. A generating unit at the Lake Road plant in St. Joseph will be converted to use natural gas by 2016, and the Sibley plant will convert or close two units by 2019. The latter two plants will still have some units that burn coal.

After the changes, KCP&L; will have 3,080 megawatts of coal-fired generation. With increased use of natural gas and renewable energy and improvements in energy efficiency, the utility will have plenty of power to serve its 812,000 customers, company officials said.

The Sierra Club, which has been a critic of the utility, praised the decision.

“KCP&L;’s transition away from coal and embrace of clean energy is the absolute best path forward for its customers and for clean air,” said Holly Bender, deputy director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign. “KCP&L; is leading Missouri’s utility sector in its commitment to innovation and steady progress on clean energy.”

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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