JEA Northside Generating Station

The JEA Northside Generating Station is located on the St. Johns River near the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in Jacksonville, Florida. It is one of three plants owned and operated by the former Jacksonville Electric Authority, now known simply as JEA. The Northside Station uses three generators. The first two generators are fueled by coal and petroleum coke, a byproduct of the oil refining. The third generator, Unit ST3, uses fuel oil and natural gas.

The Northside Generating Station was put into operation in 1966 using only fuel oil to power its single 275-megawatt generator. In 1972, a second identical generator was added to the station. Unit two was shut down in 1983 after experiencing severe problems in its boiler. Unit ST3, the plant’s 564-megawatt unit, was added in 1977. This unit enabled the plant to take advantage of natural gas as fuel. Of these three original units, only Unit ST3 is currently operating.

A major expansion was completed at the JEA Northside Station in 1996. This expansion upgraded Unit 1 with clean coal technology. Unit 2 was completely replaced with a similar unit. This upgrade reduced harmful emissions by 10 percent. JEA paid a total of $234 million for the upgrade, while the U.S. Department of Energy footed $75 million of the bill. Unit 1 and Unit 2 were synchronized in 2002 to give the plant a boost in the total electricity produced.

The JEA Northside Generating Plant makes extensive use of the St. John’s River in several areas of operation. One use is in the delivery and shipping of solid fuels used at the plant, coal and petroleum coke. Barges deliver the fuel to a unique fuel conveyor system. The conveyor system then transfers the fuel over the course of twenty minutes to a pair of the largest domes for solid fuel storage on the continent. Another use of the St. John’s River is in cooling. The station takes in water from the river to cool the condensers. The water is completely isolated in the cooling system and circulates back into the river. However, during the cooling process, at several points, a chemical is added to the water to prevent the growth of algae or other forms of life on the condensers. Total water use for cooling is estimated at 620 gallons per day.

The last complete emissions tests at the Northside Station were in 2002. At this time, all emissions were in acceptable ranges. In 2001, JEA was forced to pay $82,000 because soot from plant was damaging new cars being prepared for sale. Unfortunately, soot was far from the most harmful substance in existence at and near the plant.  Many power plants built around the same time as Northside contained asbestos as an insulating material.  This would prove to be harmful and even deadly to the workers who were around this material.