Progress Energy taking down Higgins plant

Progress Energy taking down Higgins plant

Progress Energy Florida’s former Oldsmar power plant, idle for the past decade, will go up in a cloud of smoke later this month.

The half-century-old A.W. Higgins plant is scheduled for implosion at 8 a.m. Friday, Oct. 20. The public is welcome to watch the spectacle from Philippe Park, across Old Tampa Bay to the west of the plant, though no one will be allowed within 2,000 feet of the facility on land or water.

The “Mighty Higgins” plant opened in 1954, with its first unit started three years earlier, and was retired in 1996. The oil-fired plant was named in honor of a former president of Florida Power Corp.

Progress Energy Florida decided to clear its Oldsmar site and make it an environmental buffer instead of allowing the plant to deteriorate, a company spokeswoman said Friday.

New York-based DEMCO Inc. has been contracted to dismantle the plant, with Controlled Demolition Inc. performing the implosion. CDI, based in Phoenix, Md., has imploded more than 7,000 structures on six continents, including in feature films such as “Lethal Weapon 3″ and “Enemy of the State.”

Progress Energy Florida, a St. Petersburg-based subsidiary of Progress Energy Inc. (NYSE: PGN), provides electricity and related services to more than 1.6 million customers in west and central Florida.

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