Here’s why residents welcome changes at Orlando’s Stanton Energy Plant

News 6 takes a look inside Orange County’s iconic cooling towers

ORLANDO, Fla. – Over the next five years, the iconic Stanton Energy Plant will be replacing the coal it now uses to generate electricity with natural gas.

According to the plan approved by board members for the Orlando Utilities Commission, Stanton will end its coal-fired electricity generation by 2027.

[TRENDING: Can Trump run for president again? | Tourists flocking to Fla. for vaccine? | Fifth-largest lotto jackpot up for grabs]

They estimate using natural gas will reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent with a target of zero emissions and 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050.

“There are more emissions are associated with coal than natural gas. There’s no question,” said OUC spokesman Tim Trudell.

Trudell took News 6 inside the Stanton plant to show what this conversion would look like.

He said stacks of coal will be phased out as natural gas replaces it, but the cooling towers seen from Avalon Park and the Beachline will stay.

Coal is stores in piles outside of the Stanton Energy Plant in Orange County. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Why is it taking six years?

Trudell said the conversion of its burners is expensive and moving faster could mean higher electric bills.

“We continue to push for sustainability, but we also have to remember that all of our customers count on us to be affordable. So, we’ve got to do both,” he said.

“When you become a mom, you start to think differently about the world and what it means for their future,” said Piper Vargas.

Vargas and Yartiza Perez are members of Mom’s Clean Air Force – a group dedicated to fighting for cleaner air.

They said they have been urging OUC to get rid of coal for at least the last five years.

“(Burning coal) immediately affects our health being outside in this neighborhood -- in this community -- with young kids,” Vargas said.

Stanton's furnace will be converted to 100 percent natural gas by the year 2027. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Stanton is not alone in making this conversion.

According to previous reports, eight other coal-burning plants in the state have either converted to natural gas, or they are in the middle of transitioning.

You can see all of the power plants in the state of Florida and how they generate their power below.

Rep. Darren Soto, D-Florida, sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington, D.C.

He said the conversion to natural gas at Stanton has been a long time in coming.

“Well, we could always wish for it sooner. At least we’re on a plan we can rely on now,” he told News 6.

Perez said her group’s fight to move faster toward 100 percent renewable energy isn’t over.

“It’s great. I’m excited, but we can definitely do better,” she said. “We can do better, and I’m really going to press and continue to press to do better.”

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.