Crews dismantling old emissions stack at Kelly plant

A crew works to remove the brick emissions stack at the Kelly Power Plant near downtown on Thursday in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 4:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 4:18 p.m.

One hundred and fifty feet in the air at a downtown power plant, a work crew is taking apart an old emissions stack brick by brick.

On Saturday, contracted workers started dismantling the 200-foot-high, circa-1960 brick stack at Gainesville Regional Utilities' John R. Kelly Generating Station. By Wednesday afternoon, they had cut the stack's height down to about 150 feet. Workers climb a narrow ladder to scaffolding at the top of the stack. There, they knock bricks away and send them falling down the circular center of the stack to the ground below.

The aging stack has not been used since January 2013, said Melissa Jones, the director of production for GRU's power plants. Before work on the demolition of the stack started, GRU retired three old, rarely used natural gas combustion turbines and a steam unit. The emissions for those units, which had a combined capacity of 65.2 megawatts, exited through the stack.

GRU staff said ongoing maintenance costs, projected renovation costs and light use combined in the decision to dismantle the stack.

"The deteriorating stack was serving no functional purpose and was in need of major refurbishment to withstand hurricane winds. In addition to public safety, the cost of maintaining the stack was a significant factor in the decision to retire it," John Stanton, GRU's assistant general manager of energy supply, said in a news release.

Gerard Chimney, a St. Louis, Missouri-based company that specializes in chimney and stack inspections and demolition, won the $235,000 contract for the ongoing stack project after a competitive bidding process, Jones said. She said GRU estimated that needed renovation work and ongoing maintenance would have cost twice that amount.

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