The tall smokestacks have taken their last puff.
The venerable Morro Bay Power Plant, owned and operated by Houston-based Dynegy since 2007, will finally retire operations full-time on February 5th.
That means the trio of 450-foot-high smokestacks will no longer produce smoke, but the giant chimneys won’t be coming down any time soon just because the plant is closing.
To many area residents, the power plant’s soaring smokestacks are as much a Morro Bay landmark as 575-foot-high Morro Rock; looming over the north end of the Embarcadero on Morro Bay, they’ve been a prominent part of Morro Bay’s skyline since the plant opened in 1955.
The plant, which has burned natural gas since the 1990s, has been winding down in recent years, but remained ready to meet summer peak energy demands. However, Dynegy presently has no contracts for its services, demand for independent energy on the open market has been sparse, and the plant is no longer cost-effective for Dynegy to operate.
While most Morro Bay residents welcome the pollutant-free air, safer marine environment and quieter waterfront as a result of the plant closing, not all agree on what to do with the smokestacks if and when Dynegy gives up on producing any form of energy at that location. Eyesores to demolish? Historical landmarks to preserve? That’s a debate for another time.
Meanwhile, Dynegy still holds the lease and says it’s actively exploring viable alternative uses for the location that benefit the state and community. The company believes it can continue to support energy and electricity needs at the site, including renewable energy, and play a part in Morro Bay’s future.