TVA retired two John Sevier coal units at the end of 2012

The Tennessee Valley Authority officially retired at the end of 2012 two coal units at the John Sevier plant, and at the same time idled the two other coal units at that plant as those units are readied for retirement in 2015.

“In April 2011, TVA entered into two substantively similar agreements, one with the Environmental Protection Agency (‘EPA’) and the other with Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and three environmental advocacy groups (collectively, the ‘Environmental Agreements’),” said TVA’s Feb. 5 Form 10-Q quarterly financial report filed with the SEC. “Under the Environmental Agreements, TVA committed, among other things, to retire, on a phased schedule, 18 coal-fired units. Consistent with the Environmental Agreements, Units 1 and 2 at the John Sevier Fossil Plant (‘John Sevier’) were retired on December 31, 2012. The remaining two units at John Sevier were idled on December 31, 2012.”

On Dec. 21, 2012, under the Environmental Agreements, TVA notified the EPA of its decision regarding options for Units 3 and 4 at John Sevier and Unit 5 at Colbert Fossil Plant. TVA said it has elected to retire John Sevier Units 3 and 4 by Dec. 31, 2015, and to remove Colbert Unit 5 from service effective Dec. 31, 2015. Also, TVA provided notice that it will locate a Particulate Matter Continuous Emissions Monitor on the common stack for Shawnee Fossil Plant Units 6-10 in lieu of installing the PM CEM at Colbert Unit 5, which will be removed from service.

Of those plants mentioned:

  • John Sevier Fossil Plant has four coal-fired units with a summer net capability of 704 MW.
  • Colbert Fossil Plant has five coal-fired units with a summer net capability of 1,184 MW.
  • Shawnee has nine active coal-fired units with a summer net capability of 1,206 MW. One unit at Shawnee, Unit 10, was idled in 2010 and the TVA website shows the utility is mulling whether to convert it to burning biomass.

“Due to the age, lower capacity, and lower efficiency of TVA’s older coal-fired units, it may not be economical to continue to operate some units in the future, particularly if new environmental laws or regulations become effective,” the Feb. 5 Form 10-Q said. “However, discontinuing the use of some coal-fired units may be constrained by transmission reinforcement that will be required before the units are taken out of service. TVA is also planning to convert all of its wet [coal combustion residual] CCR facilities to dry collection facilities, and the estimated cost of this conversion is between $1.5 billion and $2.0 billion.”

In the meantime, the gas-fired John Sevier Combined Cycle Plant, adjacent to the coal plant, began commercial operation in April 2012. This is an 880-MW facility that is designed in part to replace some of TVA’s retiring coal-fired capacity.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.