TVA drops plans for coal waste facility at Widows Creek

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has purchased about 600 acres of land adjacent to its coal-fired Widows Creek plant, but due to the impending retirement of six of the plant’s eight coal units, no longer has at least near-term plans to develop a coal combustion residuals (CCR) storage project on the site.

Twenty one parcels were purchased and most include at least a dwelling or an out-building, TVA said in a draft environmental assessment released for comment in late June. The properties were originally purchased for potential future storage of CCR as part of TVA’s initiative to convert to dry handling systems at all coal facilities following the costly failure of a wet ash storage facility at its Kingston plant in Tennessee.

The Widows Creek plant is located in Jackson County, Ala., adjacent to the Tennessee River. Units 1 through 6 at the plant have been idle since 2011 and TVA plans to retire them by July 31, 2015. These retirements would support TVA’s environmental agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, plus several states and environmental groups, related to clean-air needs. Their retirement also would support TVA’s vision of being one of the nation’s leading providers of low-cost and cleaner energy by 2020.

“With the retirement of units 1 through 6, TVA would not have to open a new CCR landfill in the near future,” said the draft EA. But, TVA still wants to knock down and clear away the abandoned buildings on the site for safety and other reasons.

Widows Creek Units 7 and 8 remain active and have a combined summer net capacity of 974 MW. TVA has previously installed selective catalytic reduction systems to reduce NOx emissions by about 90% and SO2 scrubbers to reduce SO2 emissions at these two Widows Creek units, so they remain in the utility’s long-term plans. The GenerationHub database shows each of the idled Units 1-6 with 141 MW of nameplate capacity and 111 MW of net summer capability.

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.