Operations at Chamois Power Plant will cease September 30th.The Central Electric Power Cooperative's board of directors looked at the economics of continued operation, and made the decision based on increasing costs from upcoming environmental regulations, higher fuel delivery costs, as well as needed on-site improvements for coal shipment, slower member load growth and lower natural gas prices.The 28 people employed at the 66-megawatt coal plant will receive job-seeking help from Associated Electric Cooperative, which has paid expenses since 1962 in exchange for full use of the plant. The Springfield-based cooperative is also Central Electric's wholesale power supplier.Employees who do not find a position at an AECI power plant will be offered a severance package. The package, which would vary with service, will provide a minimum eight weeks of wages.An estimated $4.1 million in capital expenditures would be needed to meet 2015 requirements for controlling mercury and small ash particles. About $150,000 would also be needed annually to operate the controls. In 2017, a conversion to low-sulfur coal needed for unit one would cost about $19 million, while controlling sulfur dioxide emissions would require another $8 million by 2019.The plant's long-term contract for coal delivery expires after 2013, and the new contract price is significantly higher, according to a news release from the Central Electric. A new $3-million rail siding is also needed to unload coal cars.Chamois unit one was built in 1953. A second unit was added in 1960. It's the oldest and smallest of AECI's coal-fired generation resources, providing a small percentage of electricity to 875,000 AECI customers in Missouri, Oklahoma and Iowa. That coverage included all in Central Electric's service area.AECI has more than 2,700 megawatts of high-efficiency natural gas capacity, and, according to the news release, that combined with lower gas prices and more generators available, gives AECI the flexibility to achieve the lowest cost for members.
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