Heavy rains around Lake Parker broke long enough Monday afternoon to let a line of officials shovel soil at a ceremony marking the beginning of construction of Lakeland Electric’s $155 million “next generation” power plant.

Roughly 65 people attended the ceremony at the utility’s CD McIntosh Jr. Power Plant, where six 680,000-pound reciprocal engines are expected to come online around December 2023.

Officials from the city of Lakeland, Lakeland Electric and contracting companies break ground on the utility’s new Reciprocal Power Plant, which will be built on the raised area behind them. The power plants in the background are being demolished.

Here is a look at what will be built:

  • What: Reciprocal Engine Plant, previously referred to as the RICE (Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine) plant
  • Where: CD McIntosh Jr. Power Plant on the eastern shore of Lake Parker
  • Timeline: Engine design began more than a year ago. Construction setup begins next week with major construction starting by the end of the month.
  • Completion: Testing is scheduled to begin in fall 2023 with the plant coming online commercially by the end of 2023.
  • Cost: $155 million, funded by a municipal bond
  • Fuel: Natural gas. The engines are capable of using 20% hydrogen fuel if it becomes financially viable. They can be modified to be 100% hydrogen capable, Lakeland Electric Interim General Manager Mike Beckham said.
  • Environmental impact: Lakeland Electric estimates that the switch from coal to natural gas has cut CO2 emissions by more than 50%.
An engine similar to the ones that will be used in Lakeland being installed at a power plant in Gibraltar. It was built by MAN Energy Solutions of Augsburg, Germany, which is supplying the Lakeland engines.
  • Engine size: Each of the six engines is 21 feet tall and 43 feet long. Each weights 680,000 pounds and will be supported by more than 400 piles.
  • Stack size: 82 feet with radiators that are a little smaller than a football field.
  • Capacity: 120 megawatts
  • Speed: The engines can start and load in under two minutes. The now-decommissioned coal power plant took three days to start, Mayor Bill Mutz said at the ceremony.
  • Heat recovery: A 200,000-gallon tank that keeps the engines warm for a quick start will save $350,000 a year in auxiliary power costs.
  • Backup: An emergency generator will make the engines available in the event of a plant power blackout.
  • Fiber optic connections in the controls minimize the effects of lightning.
A rendering of the Reciprocal Engine Plant. The stacks are about one-quarter the height of the power plants that are being removed, providing a much lower profile on the lakefront.
  • Contractors: Sargent & Lundy, Chicago, engineering consulting; MAN Energy Solutions, Augusburg, Germany, engines and equipment; Casey Industrial, Denver, underground construction.
  • International: The engines will travel 4,000+ miles from Saint-Nazaire, France. Other equipment is coming from Spain, India, Greece, Germany, Canada Mexico and the U.S.
  • Lakeland Electric’s other power plants: McIntosh Unit 5 – natural gas; McIntosh Gas Turbine 2 – natural gas (can run on diesel); Larsen Power Plant – natural gas (can run on diesel); Winston Power Plant – diesel
  • Fuel migration: “Lakeland Electric really is a little microcosm of what’s going on nationally,” Beckham said at the ceremony. “We’re shutting down dispatchable fossil fuel units all over the country. We’re moving to renewable; we’re doing both at the same time, which is kind of scary to those of us who watch the grid … This is a nice bridge from where we were to where we’re going. This will ensure that our customers will have dependable, affordable, sustainable power, but till we get to that new, renewable future.”

Demolition has begun on McIntosh units 1, 2 and 3 and is expected to take nearly a year and a half to complete. Here is time-lapse video from Lakeland Electric of one of the first demolition projects:

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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1 Comment

  1. if plant is funded by municipal bonds why did lakeland residence electricity cost go up 3 and 4 times. Does not make sense. and where are we getting out electric from at this moment

    Electricity is now costing me one third of my socall security check. Why now

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