Former coal plants
With the scheduled retirement of scores of coal plants in the United States, a number of efforts are underway to redevelop coal plants for other uses. Typically these plants provide massive indoor spaces and are located adjacent to waterways. Many also serve as prime examples of monumental architectural styles.
The following is a partial list of decommissioned coal plants:
- AES Jennison Generation Plant
- Central Islip State Hospital Powerplant
- Elk River Station
- Glenwood Power Station
- IRT Powerhouse
- Island Station Power Plant
- Mad River Power Plant
- Mohave Power Station
- Ottawa Street Power Station
- Pearl Street Station
- Potomac River Generating Station
- Pratt Street Power Plant
- South Street Station
- Willis Avenue Station
- Widows Creek Fossil Plant (scheduled)
- Blyth Power Station (Wikipedia)
- 1 Central Islip State Hospital Powerplant
- 2 Elk River Station
- 3 Glenwood Power Station (also known as Yonkers Power Station)
- 4 IRT Powerhouse
- 5 Island Station Power Plant
- 6 Mad River Power Plant
- 7 Ottawa Street Power Station
- 8 Pearl Street Station
- 9 Potomac River Generating Station
- 10 Pratt Street Power Plant
- 11 South Street Station
- 12 Seaholm Power Plant
- 13 Widows Creek Fossil Plant
- 14 Articles and Resources
Central Islip State Hospital Powerplant
The Central Islip State Hopsital Powerplant was constructed in 1953 in Central Islip, New York, and demolished in 2006 to make room for condominiums.
Elk River Station
Elk River Station, a 35-to-42 Megawatt plant in Elk River, Minnesota, was built as a coal- and oil-fired facility in 1950, converted to a nuclear power plant in 1963, reconverted to coal and oil in 1968, and converted to refuse derived fuel (RDF) made from municipal solid waste in 1989.
Glenwood Power Station (also known as Yonkers Power Station)
The Glenwood Power Station in Yonkers, New York, was build in 1906 to supply electricity to the New York Central and Hundson River Railroad. In 1936 the coal-fired plant was sold to ConEd to provide electricity for Yonkers and the surrounding region. It was shuttered in the 1960s. Current plans by developer Glenwood POH are to transform the plant into a mixed-use convention center with hotels and restaurants.
Wikipedia describes the IRT Powerhouse as follows:
- The IRT Powerhouse is a former power station of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company. Built in 1904, the "thoroughly classical colossus of a building"  fills the entire block between 58th to 59th Street, and from 11th to 12th Avenues in Manhattan. The building became unnecessary to the subway system in the 1950s; it has since been operated by Con Edison.
- The powerhouse is an elaborately detailed Renaissance Revival building. The architect was Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White. The building's magnificence and ornate details reflect the ideas of the City Beautiful movement. It has been described as "a classical temple that paid homage to modern industry. According to the Municipal Art Society], many of the building’s original details are intact, although in March 2009, the Consolidated Edison Company removed the last of its smokestacks. The building originally had six smokestacks, designed to echo the smokestacks on the great steamships at the nearby Hudson River piers.
Island Station Power Plant
Wikipedia describes the history of the Island Station Power Plant as follows:
- Island Station Power Plant is a decommissioned coal plant on the Mississippi River less than a mile up-river from downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota. St. Paul Gas & Light Company commissioned construction of the plant in 1921. In 1923, before construction was even complete, a more efficient technology for burning coal was developed, rendering the plant obsolete before it even opened.
- The plant came online in 1926 and operated at three-fourths the intended capacity until 1943 when it was shifted to an off-peak use and only produced power 6-10 weeks per year. In 1975, Northern States Power (which acquired the plant shortly after it was finished) decommissioned the plant and used it for storage.
- In 1985 John Kerwin bought the plant and converted portions of the building into studio apartments for local artists. For a time a colony of a half-dozen to a dozen houseboat dwellers moored at the plant. In 2003 Island Station L.L.C. purchased the property for $1.5 million with the hope of turning it into a 235-unit condo with a 20-slip marina. The $80 million project started work and more than 100 units had even been reserved, the project seems to have stalled. As of July 2007 the project has not moved forward.
- Set of exterior photos taken with permission and available on Flickr.
Mad River Power Plant
The Mad River Power Plant operated from 1927 to 1981. In an obituary for the plant, local reporter Samantha Sommer wrote:
- The “Giant of the Valley” will finally be slain. FirstEnergy Corp. plans to begin demolishing its old Mad River Plant, starting possibly as soon as the end of next week.The iconic coal-burning plant with the “Giant” nickname on the city’s west end opened in 1927 and once provided power to as far away as Marysville, said Tim Suter, manager of external affairs for FirstEnergy. But the 25,000-square-foot plant, which shut down in 1981, has deteriorated, with chunks falling off the exterior recently, he said. “It’s sad because it’s a beautiful building ... But it’s time,” Suter said. “The plant is beyond its life.”
- The demolition is part of a company-wide effort. It also razed the Rockaway Plant on Buck Creek in 2008. “Our CEO and board are looking to clean up some of the old environmental concerns,” Suter said.
- For more than two months crews have been performing environmental cleanups, working through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Voluntary Action Program. The total project cost to FirstEnergy will be $3 million to $4 million and likely take until August to complete, with the 275-foot tower the last piece to come down. FirstEnergy will maintain a substation and back-up generators at the 45-acre site. The Springfield Preservation Alliance named the plant one of its preservation priorities last month and suggested reusing it. The building would be difficult to adapt for another use, Suter said, because the structure was built around massive boilers and turbine-generators. “There’s no way to get those out of there unless you tear the building down,” he said.
- Architect William K. Shilling designed it, as well as the downtown post office. The alliance toured the building on Friday, June 11, taking photographs for archival purposes. “We’re sad to lose this landmark but appreciate Ohio Edison’s reaching out to us to assist in documenting the structure,” alliance President Charles Swaney said.
- Any artifacts or architectural elements the group finds Suter said he would look into donating and keeping in town. Much larger plants with newer technology made the Mad River Plant obsolete. “The plants today can burn a barge of coal an hour whereas this one is much smaller,” Suter said.
During demolition of the 275-foot smokestack, cracks in the structure caused the smokestack to fall the wrong way, endangering observers. The video showing the faulty demolition received international media coverage.
Ottawa Street Power Station
Wikipedia describes the history of the Ottawa Street Power Station as follows:
- Ottawa Street Power Station is a former municipal electric and steam utility generating station for the Lansing Board of Water and Light in Lansing, Michigan, located on the Grand River in the city's central business district currently being redeveloped as corporate headquarters for the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America.
- The engineering design of the plant was by Ralph C. Roe and Allen Burns the firm of Burns and Roe, and represented an improvement over the design of the Bremo Station in Virginia, which the two had designed while employed at Electric Management and Engineering Company. Built in 1931 and decommissioned in 1972, the Bremo Station building still stands on the site of the current Bremo Bluff Power Station near Bremo Bluff, Virginia. The architectural design was by Edwyn A. Bowd of Bowd and Munson. Construction began in 1937 and was completed in 1939, at a cost of $4 million, with formal dedication the following year. Major additions were completed in 1946. The 176-foot tall Art Deco step-back structure sits on a polished black granite water table, with an intricate exterior design of multicolor brick. The design symbolizes the combustion of coal, and graduates from dark purple at the base through reds and orange in the middle, to light yellow at the top, alternating with bands of limestone, and with limestone parapets and trim. The Ottawa Street station was praised for its engineering and architecture in trade publications of the day, and immediately became the city's preeminent Art Deco landmark. Bowd subsequently designed a number of other prominent Art Deco and Moderne buildings in the Lansing area.
- The Ottawa Street station provided electricity and steam to the downtown Lansing area from 1939 through the late 1980s. By 1971, improvements at the Board of Water and Light's Eckert Station permitted the Ottawa Street Station to operate as a backup station for electric generation. It continued to provide steam service into the 1980s. In 1984, the Eckert Station began providing steam service, initially as a backup to the Ottawa Street Station, but eventually as the primary steam service source. As equipment became obsolete, it was removed from the Ottawa Street Station, and ultimately the plant was decommissioned in 1992 for electric and steam. In 2001, a portion of the station was renovated to provide chilled water service for air conditioning. It continued to operate as a water chilling plant until September 2009, when the Board of Water and Light completed a new chilled water plant in downtown Lansing.
- Following decommissioning, the City of Lansing explored various options for redevelopment of the Ottawa Street Station. In 2007, the site was sold to be redeveloped as corporate headquarters for the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America. Massive renovations to convert the plant to an office building are currently underway by The Christman Company, with completion of the entire 7-acre office campus scheduled for the first quarter of 2011.
- The Ottawa Street Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 26, 2008.
Pearl Street Station
Wikipedia describes the history of the Pearl Street Station as follows:
- Pearl Street Station was the first central power plant in the United States. It was located at 255-257 Pearl Street in Manhattan on a site measuring 50 by 100 feet, just south of Fulton Street. It began with one direct current generator, and it started generating electricity on September 4, 1882, serving an initial load of 400 lamps at 85 customers. By 1884, Pearl Street Station was serving 508 customers with 10,164 lamps. The station was built by the Edison Illuminating Company, which was headed by Thomas Edison. The station burnt down in 1890, destroying all but one dynamo, which is now kept in the Greenfield Village Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Potomac River Generating Station ws a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Mirant (now GenOn Energy) in Alexandria, Virginia. The plant shut down Oct. 1, 2012, after years of opposition from environmentalists and residents. In 2011, a $450 million redevelopment plan was announced by the American Clean Skies Foundation.
Pratt Street Power Plant
Wikipedia describes the history of the Pratt Street Power Plant as follows:
- Pratt Street Power Plant, also known as the Pier Four Power Plant, The Power Plant, or Pratt Street Station, is a historic power plant located at Baltimore, Maryland. Pratt Street Power Plant was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The Power Plant now contains the first ESPN Zone in the country (opened July 11, 1998), a Hard Rock Cafe (opened July 4, 1997), a multi-story Barnes & Noble, a Gold's Gym, and loft offices. Maryland Art Place, a contemporary art gallery for Maryland artists, is located in the northwest corner. The popular concert venue, Rams Head Live!, is also located in the area.
- The current complex of three structures is located at Pratt Street and Pier 4 at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The structures are brick with terra cotta trim and steel frame construction. It was built between 1900 and 1909 and is a massive industrial structure with Neo-Classical detailing designed by the noted architectural firm of Baldwin & Pennington. It served as the main source of power for the United Railways and Electric Company, a consolidation of smaller street railway systems, that influenced the provision of city-wide transportation and opened up suburban areas of Baltimore to power its electric street railway in the city. It later served as a central steam plant for the Consolidated Gas, Electric Light and Power Company, a predecessor of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company for $4 million. The plant, with obsolescent equipment, was used sparingly until it was returned to service to meet the World War II production demand for electricity.
- After the electric plant was retired from service, the building was vacant for a time. The building had been the site of many failed development endeavors, most notably an indoor Six Flags theme park (1985-1989) and a short-lived dance club called P.T. Flagg's (1989-1990).
South Street Station
Wikipedia describes the history of the South Street Station as follows:
- South Street Station (or The Narragansett Electric Company Power Station; Narragansett Electric Lighting Company Power Station) is an historic electrical station in Providence, Rhode Island at 360 Eddy Street. The coal burning station was built in 1912 by Jenks and Ballou and added to the National Historical Register in 2006. Narragansett Electric Company is a subsidiary of National Grid. The Rhode Island Historical Society is planning to build a "Heritage Harbor Museum" within the building.
Seaholm Power Plant
Located in Austin Texas, the Art Deco-style Seaholm Power Plant was built between 1950 and 1958 decommissioned in 1989. Originally designed to burn coal, the plant's coal bins were sealed off before actually being used, and the facility instead burned fuel oil. Converting the plant to other uses began with a 9-year, $13 million clean-up of hazardous materials by Austin Energy. In 2000, the City of Austin announced a redevelopment master plan and in 2004 six developments teams responded to the city's Request for Qualifications to redevelop the site. In 2006 the plant then became the first facility to receive the EPA's "Ready for Reuse" designation under the Toxic Substance Control Act. Construction work on the redevelopment project began in 2013 with completion of the project scheduled for 2015.
In 2015, Google announced that it will open a data center inside the Widows Creek Fossil Plant after the final unit, Unit 7, of the plant is retired in October 2015. Units 1-6 of the plant were retired in 2012 and 2013, and Unit 8 was retired in 2014. The data center will use the existing transmission lines at the plant to supply the data center, which will be power entirely from renewable energy. Water to cool computers will be available due to the plant's existing access to cooling water. And buried conduits along existing rail lines will be used to run fiber optic cables from the data center. The project is the first endeavor to be developed under Alabama's 2012 specialized data center incentives and its 2015 Alabama Jobs Act.
Articles and Resources
- "From Power Plant to Civic Renewal Centerpiece," New York Times, April 24, 2013
- "Central Islip State Hospital Powerplant," Wikipedia, accessed January 2010
- "Elk River Station," Wikipedia, accessed January 2010
- "Schumer to call for federal support of Yonkers power-plant rehab," Politics on the Hudson, January 15, 2013
- "From Power Plant to Civic Renewal Centerpiece," New York Times, April 24, 2013
- Glueck, Grace (April 18, 1997). "Appreciating the Palaces of a Sumptuous Past", New York Times.
- Baldock, Melissa (March 19, 2009). IRT Powerhouse: Hoping Third Time’s A Charm for Landmarking. Municipal Arts Society of New York.
- Lowe, David (1999). Stanford White's New York. Watson-Guptill, 194.
- Hood, Clifton (2004). 722 miles: the building of the subways and how they transformed New York. JHU Press, 94.
- Pogrebin, Robin (May 11, 2009). "After 2 Years, a Meeting on Village Landmarks", New York Times.
- Island Station Riverfront Condos web site, accessed July 27, 2007
- "Powerful players back power-plant condos" Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal - September 3, 2004 - by Sam Black - accessed July 27, 2007
- "Castaways" City Pages - March 17, 2004 - by Mike Mosedale - accessed July 28, 2007
- Samantha Sommer, Old Ohio Edison plant to be razed by August," Springfield News-Sun, June 11, 2010.
- "Tower tumbles wrong way during Ohio demolition," Associated Press, November 11, 2010
- Bremo Power Station, Dominion Company website, accessed January 2010
- National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Ottawa Street Power Station, National Park Service, June, 2008 (PDF with 30 pages including 10 photos)
- Cosentino, Lawrence, "The belly of the phoenix" Lansing City Pulse (March 26, 2009)
- "Ottawa Street Power Station receives national designation", Reuters (March 18, 2009)
- Mulcahy, Marty, "Big chill project revives Ottawa Street Station", The Building Tradesman (January 19, 2001)
- Cosnentino, Lawrence, "The greatest show in town", Lansing City Pulse (September 9, 2009)
- Prater, Kathryn "BWL dedicates new chilled water plant" Lansing State Journal (September 16, 2009)
- Steele, Jeremy W., "Refurbished Lansing power plant's lights to live on" Jackson Citizen Patriot (April 6, 2009)
- "Ottawa Street Power Station Receives National Designation: New Accident Fund Headquarters Added to National Register of Historic Places," Accident Fund press release, March 18, 2009
- "Edison" by Matthew Josephson. McGraw Hill, New York, 1959, pg. 255. Template:OCLC, ISBN 0070330468
- 125 Years On: Pearl Street - Birthplace of the Electic Age (Interactive Presentation), Consolidated Edison Company of New York. Last accessed: 3 May 2009.
- "Coal-burning plant in Alexandria fined $208K for air-quality violations in 2011" Washington Post, February 15, 2012.
- "From Power Plant to Civic Renewal Centerpiece," New York Times, April 24, 2013
- "American Clean Skies Foundation Unveils Potomac River Green Project," Businesswire, August 10, 2011
- National Register Information System. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service (2008-04-15).
- King, Thomson (1950). Consolidated of Baltimore 1816-1950: A History of Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore. Baltimore: Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Co., 144, 229, 288.
- Maryland Historical Trust. Pratt Street Power Plant, Baltimore City. Maryland Historical Trust (2008-11-21).
- "South Street Station," Wikipedia, accessed January 2010
- "Timeline," Seaholm Power, LLC website, accessed May 2013
- "Google Announces New Data Center - Inside a Coal Plant!" CleanEnergy.org, June 25, 2015
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