One of the most prominent vestiges of Tucson Electric Power’s coal-handling facilities in Tucson will be demolished this month at TEP’s East Irvington Road campus.

TEP stopped burning coal at its largest local power plant in 2015 as part of a long-term plan to build a cleaner, more diverse energy portfolio. This month, teams began working to remove the large A-frame structure that served as a storage facility, as well as other equipment located along the southern edge of the campus near Interstate 10.

In addition to freeing up space and eliminating the risks of keeping a massive, aging building unoccupied long term, removing the obsolete building also makes sense symbolically.

“This marks a clear shift from an earlier era that relied on fossil fuels to a future that is cleaner and greener and places an even greater emphasis on renewable energy as we continue to deliver reliable service to our customers,” said Dylan Bearce, Director of Tucson Power Production. “It’s emblematic of that saying, ‘Out with the old, in with the new.’”

The coal barn was erected after TEP was ordered by the Department of Energy in 1982 to start burning coal at the plant pursuant to the Power Plant and Industrial Fuel Use Act of 1978, which sought to preserve domestic supplies of natural gas during the energy crisis. That law was repealed in 1987 and the DOE later rescinded its order after TEP had completed the conversion.

Flexible, natural gas-powered reciprocating engines installed at the power plant last year, along with the planned retirement of our last coal fired plants, will support a plan to provide more than 70 percent of our power from wind and solar resources and reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2035.

The A-frame building, built in 1983 to house coal inventory to be fed into boilers, is 130 feet tall. In all, 5,000 cubic yards of dirt will be moved, along with 2,000 cubic yards of concrete and 1,000 tons of steel. The metal will be sent for recycling.

Other coal handling equipment will be removed over the coming months, including a facility used to unload coal-laden railroad cars.

Please visit our website for more information about our Integrated Resource Plan.

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