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Coal Plant in the Future

By: Ann Nucatola
By: Ann Nucatola

The North Florida Power Project is an 800 megawatt coal burning plant that will soon be built somewhere in north Florida.

Ron Whittington says, "We're looking for acreage of about 2,500 to 3,000 acres, and that allows us to build the plant with a buffer."

Taylor County has that acreage and says it’s very interested.

Daryll Gunter says, "It's a possibility and the commission is exploring it fully. The possibility of jobs it would bring, and the other businesses, that would be great. As many people know, Taylor County has lead the state for a long time in unemployment, and we need those jobs there."

With the power plant, another 150 jobs would be created, plus more than 1,000 sets of hands would be needed to build the plant.

Daryll Gunter says, "We're trying to progressively pursue any opportunity we can to bring new jobs into the area. We've been very proactive with the Corrections Department and we're just trying to expand our base and not rely on one industry or another."

The Taylor County Commission is working in harmony. The City of Tallahassee Commission is not.

Allan Katz says, "I think it's a mistake."

Debbie Lightsey says, "It's going to be built anyway, so why would we not join in?"

The city is the fourth partner in the North Florida Power Project, for now at least.

Allan Katz adds, "Well, what has been decided is to go forward with this plant unless the citizens of this community vote in a referendum vote no."

Debbie Lightsey says, "We need more generation. We need megawatts of generation, not kilowatts. This plant is going to be built regardless of whether we participate or not. It provides fuel diversity, which is what we need."

Commissioner Katz is the only one who voted against the project. He says his was a moral decision.

Allan Katz explains, "We don't want a coal plant of this size in our community, yet we are absolutely facilitating an identical situation in Taylor County."

But ultimately the decision of whether the city will be involved will be up to the voter.

Debbie Lightsey says, "There is no clean renewable fuel right now that we can employee to get the megawatts we need, end of story. That's how simple this discussion is."

Both sides agree more power is going to be needed. If Tallahassee votes against the coal plant project, it will fuel a new debate on what to do instead.

The City Commission is now on a break, but the discussions will resume in late August.


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