After 61 years in service, Louisville Gas and Electric has demolished the last standing buildings at the retired coal-fired Cane Run Generating Station.
Cane Run has a long history in Kentucky. Built back in the 1950s, the power plant fueled economic development as Louisville grew during the post-war era.
But times have changed. A decade ago, 94 percent of Kentucky’s electricity came from coal. Today, it’s at around 75 percent, with the difference made up mostly by natural gas and a small increase in renewables.
The Cane Run coal plant generated its last megawatt of power in June 2015.
In the last few months, a demolition crew has stripped the buildings of mechanical and electrical parts, preparing for this moment.
“Today what we will be doing is bringing down what’s considered the boiler house. So this is the outlying structure as well as the six power plant stacks,” said Liz Pratt, spokeswoman.
Wyatt and Kathy Little watched the stacks fall outside Sandi’s Kitchen, just on the other side of the fence from LG&E’s Cane Run property.
Watching the demolition carried a special weight for the Littles.
“My heart kind of leapt out,” said Wyatt.
For years, the ash leftover from burning coal at the plant also blew onto their home and others in their neighborhood. It blew off coal storage piles and through the power plant’s emissions stacks. It ejected hundreds of feet into the air from the sludge plant and flew off the massive coal ash landfill.
In fact, even with the plant closed, Little said the landfill can still be a problem.
“Even after they stopped burning coal which has been some time ago now, the stuff still blows off,” he said. “We still see it blowing off the top.”
LG&E said it’s monitoring the site to comply with environmental regulations and has not seen any evidence that coal ash is still blowing off the property.
Still, Little sees the demolition as an end of the era. He said it’s fitting that right alongside the old coal plant sits a brand-new natural gas power plant, and he hopes that America continues moving towards cleaner energy sources.
“I’m standing right here in my front picture window and my view was these tall ugly stacks. Now they’re gone I can actually see clear sky,” Wyatt said.
LG&E Plans to remove the debris and bring in top soil to make a grassy field where the plant once stood.
This story has been updated.