Lakeland Officials Not Excited About Replacing Coal With Solar

When Lakeland officials announced last year that Lakeland Electric planned to phase out its coal-burning plant, there was a push by Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign to persuade them to turn to renewables rather than other fossil fuel alternatives, primarily natural gas.

Based on comments at a committee meeting this week, it appears not much solar will be happening.

Three reasons were advanced at the meeting.

While the expense of solar is coming down, it is still not a good deal compared to other fuel sources. No discussion of the externalities of burning fossil fuels occurred.

Solar farms require a lot of land and there isn’t much available land within the highly urbanized Lakeland Electric service area to accommodate many solar farms.

Solar farms are not esthetically pleasing and there are questions about the disposition of the solar farm components once they need to be replaced.

Some commissioners have discussed considering modular nuclear reactors, but those have been controversial because of the cost and the still unresolved issue of how to handle the radioactive waste.

The discussion is expected to continue.