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Indiantown Power plant set for implosion

Published: Jun. 15, 2021 at 11:16 AM EDT
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This week, Florida Power and Light will be imploding its last standing coal-powered plant.

The chimney stack that has been towering over Indiantown for more than two decades will be imploded with dynamite Wednesday, marking a major milestone in the energy company’s plan to use cleaner sources of energy.

WPTV took a tour of the plant days before detonation.

The plant was built in 1995 and purchased by FPL from Calypso Energy in 2016 with plans to ultimately shut it down. FPL said the plant has not been used for at least two years.

“We’re saying goodbye to coal. This is our last coal-fired plant in the state of Florida. This is the next step in our 20-year modernization story of providing clean, reliable, and affordable energy to our customers,” said FPL Spokesperson Jack Eble.

The chimney stack and coal conveyors will be the first to go, followed by the boiler, ash silo, and other smaller structures potentially later this year.

“Over the last 20 years, we’ve been replacing old, inefficient, dirty fuel sources and replacing them with cost-effective, cleaner solutions for our customers,” Eble said.

The showcase of the project will be bringing down the 495-foot chimney stack which, once detonated, will fall in just about 8 seconds according to Mark Loizeaux, president and owner of CDI, Construction Demolition, Inc.

“It’s quick. Don’t blink, you’ll miss it,” Loizeaux said.

Loizeaux said 171 pounds of explosives will be used at 104 locations on the conveyor and 340 locations in the chimney. In the chimney, dynamite will be used for imploding the stack in less than a second.

“You need to be prayerful because, without the lord’s gravity, the structure won’t fall. Gravity, she’s been pulling on all these structures since they put them up. She would like to bring them down. All we do is use a very small quantity of explosives to accommodate that,” Loizeaux said.

Shaped charges, a type of explosive, will be used for bringing down the conveyors. “And those linear-shaped charges cut steel with pressure of about 3 million pounds of pressure per square inch at a speed of 27,000 feet per second,” Loizeaux said.

The sound of the implosion has been compared to a thunderstorm, and just a momentary ‘boom’.

Loizeaux said this is the fastest and safest way to start clearing the property.

“When we take a tall structure down like that, no one is nearby. You’re not pulling on it with a cable or cutting on it with a torch. You’re 500 or 600 feet away and you push a button,” Loizeaux said.

FPL is waiting until detonation day to reveal what will replace the coal plant. The company has replaced old oil-burning plants, such as Port Everglades, with natural gas plants. FPL is also investing heavily in solar power.

“We’re more than 40% of the way through our 30 by 30 plan, which is putting 30 million solar panels in the state of Florida by 2030,” Eble said.

Fort Pierce’s solar field along the interstate is an example of one of 38 solar energy centers FPL is operating statewide.

“The 38 solar energy centers generate power for about 500,000 homes for the year,” said Dan Waugh, Engineering Leader for FPL.

The Fort Pierce solar field, alone, could power a small town.

“We create enough power at just this one site for 15,000 homes….There’s no water, there’s no emissions. It’s just clean, green energy,” Waugh said.

At the Indiantown site, thousands of tons of materials from the demolition will be recycled. The property is set to be completely cleared by 2023.

FPL is asking people to stay away from the implosion site. SW Silver Fox Lane will be closed briefly Wednesday morning.

The implosion is scheduled for 9 a.m. and will be live-streamed on FPL's YouTube page and on WPTV.com

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