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Retiring An Icon

Feb 2, 2021

One thing is certain: Springfield would not be where it is today without the James River Power Station (JRPS). While serving as a reliable, locally-generated source of electricity, JRPS helped establish Springfield, in both population and prominence, thereby forever changing southwest Missouri. James River Power Station was officially decommissioned on January 28, 2021, after more than 63 years of service to you and our community.

Powering Economic Growth

Eager to control their own power generation needs, community members began discussions to build a power station in the early 1940s. After two failed ballot measures, the community finally approved the proposal by a wide margin to build JPRS in 1954. By 1957, the building, Lake Springfield dam roadway, and two units were built with a price tag of $11 million. By 1970, all five units were up and running, which kick-started an era of growth for the area. Springfield’s population was 67,000 in 1957 and nearly doubled by 1970. The reliable generation source provided the foundation for economic and industrial development for the region.

“We as a community were competing with Joplin for prominence in southwest Missouri. Our populations were about the same and we were economically doing very similar things,” said Mayor Ken McClure. “What City Utilities had done was starting to separate Springfield from the rest of southwest Missouri—James River Power Station was a major part of that.”

A Versatile and Reliable Legacy 

Originally built to use natural gas as fuel, JRPS transitioned to burn coal in the late 1970s in response to the nation’s energy crisis. The plant transitioned back to natural gas in 2015.

While this chapter has come to an end, JRPS leaves behind a legacy of excellence, while also laying the foundation of success for Springfield and generations to come.

“If you look at the lifespan of James River Power Station, it’s almost unheard of in terms of power stations. By being in operation since 1957—that’s 63 years and that’s phenomenal,” said Mayor McClure. “I congratulate the utility on a great run.”

Learn more about the history of James River Power Station! Watch the latest CUrious video.