For more than 120 years, OMU has produced the power provided to the residents and businesses in our community. The Elmer Smith Generating Station was constructed in 1964, with a second unit added approximately ten years later. In 2020, the Elmer Smith Generating Station ceased operation, ending that legacy.
The decision to decommission the plant was not an easy one, but one that was in the best interest of our customer-owners and assisted OMU in stabilizing its electric rates. The process to decommission and demolish ESS began shortly after its closure.
Perhaps the most noticeable part of the demolition was the felling of the two stacks on December 4, 2022. These two towering stacks have been a part of Owensboro’s skyline throughout most of the plant’s existence.
The taller stack – which reached 650-feet into the sky – was constructed with the addition of Unit 2. Construction on this stack began in 1971 by the Continental-Heine Chimney Company and required 3,196 cubic yards of concrete. Its base was 26 inches thick which decreased to 9 inches thick at the top. This stack was supported by 380 reinforced pilings.
The shorter stack – which rose 419 feet into the air – was built starting in 1992 by the Pullman Power Corporation in conjunction with the construction of an emission control system. Its base was 11 inches thick which decreased to 8 3/4 inches at the top. This stack was supported by 248 reinforced pilings.
The felling of these stacks may mark the end of an era. However, the Elmer Smith Generating Station and all of the employees who kept it operating are a lasting legacy in our community. Together they provided reliable, efficient and reasonably priced power for an entire community.
Demolition is being overseen by National Salvage and Service Corporation and the felling of the stacks was managed by Controlled Demolition Incorporated.