One of the last coal-fired power plants in Louisiana is shutting down and laying off dozens of workers in DeSoto Parish.
The 650-megawatt coal plant was built in 1986 and is jointly owned by Pineville-based Cleco Power and Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO).
Dolet Hills Power Station in Mansfield is closing on December 31 and laying off 54 workers. A small number of employees may stick around to complete the shut down process.
Power plant technicians, mechanics, operations, coordinators and custodians will be laid off in the coming weeks, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification submitted to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
For decades, the plant has been powered by coal from the Oxbow Mine nearby. The coal is transported along a 12-mile long conveyor belt to the plant where 4 millions of tons are typically burned each year. The mine is expected to close; hundreds of workers have already been laid off, according to the Natchitoches Times.
“The low market price of power, coupled with the cost of lignite mined at Oxbow is contributing to the Dolet Hills plant being less competitive,” said Jennifer Cahill, spokesperson for Cleco.
SWEPCO agreed to shut down the plant by 2026 at the latest as part of a settlement with the Arkansas Public Service Commission and the Sierra Club over environmental concerns of air pollution. The company decided to close the plant five years early.
“The retirement of Dolet Hills is a win for ratepayers, public health and the environment,” said Cherelle Blazer, senior campaign representative for Sierra Club’s beyond coal campaign. “This is a golden opportunity for investment in Louisiana and Arkansas with more cost-effective clean energy capital projects like building solar and wind capacity.”
There are only two other coal power plants left in Louisiana: Entergy-owned RS Nelson in Lake Charles and Big Cajun 2 in New Roads, a joint venture between Entergy and Cleco.
Cleco expects the closure of Dolet Hills Power Station will save customers between $9 and $15 per month in fuel costs. Both Cleco and SWEPCO plan to replace the coal powered electricity with renewable sources such as wind and solar.