TVA kicks off process to update its integrated resource plan

The Tennessee Valley Authority is beginning a public process to update its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which already includes an at least 2,700-MW reduction in coal-fired capacity.

Interested stakeholders and the general public are invited to two sessions to discuss the purpose of the IRP, the approximately 18-month process to update it and the scope of an associated Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. The first session will be Oct. 24 at TVA headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn. The second session will be Nov. 6 at MLGW University in Memphis, Tenn.

“With the help of the public, TVA will identify the most effective energy resource strategy that will meet TVA’s mission and serve the people of the Valley for the next 10 to 20 years with cleaner, low-cost and reliable electricity,” said TVA Vice President Joe Hoagland, who is the designated federal officer for the IRP, in an Oct. 18 statement.

TVA will be accepting written comments electronically and by regular mail from Oct. 21 to Nov. 22.

The IRP is being refreshed to update the recommended planning direction presented in the 2011 IRP to reflect dramatic changes that have occurred both for the industry and TVA. Those changes include an abundance of lower-cost natural gas, a decline in electricity demand growth industry-wide and in the Tennessee Valley region, a new schedule for completing the Watts Bar Nuclear Unit 2 in 2015, and TVA’s clean-air commitments to retire at least 2,700 MW of less-efficient coal capacity by 2018.

TVA said it anticipates the major issues to be addressed in the IRP study and the associated Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement will include:

  • the cost and reliability of power;
  • the effects of power production on the environment;
  • the availability and use of renewable power resources, including energy efficiency;
  • the handling of waste and byproducts of TVA power operations; and
  • the relationship of the economy to all of these activities.

TVA also expects an evaluation of electrical transmission system additions and upgrades necessary to transmit power from TVA generating facilities and from facilities outside the TVA region.

TVA has already shut several coal units, with others on the future target list

A key factor in the coal shutdowns is that in April 2011, TVA entered into two similar agreements, one with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the other with several states and environmental groups. Under the agreements, TVA committed, among other things, to retire, on a phased schedule, 18 coal-fired units.

  • Consistent with the agreements, Units 1 and 2 at the John Sevier plant were retired at the end of 2012. The remaining two units at John Sevier were idled at the same time, TVA noted in its Aug. 5 Form 10-Q filing with the SEC.
  • In December 2012, TVA notified the EPA of its decision regarding options for Units 3 and 4 at John Sevier and Unit 5 at Colbert. TVA elected to retire John Sevier Units 3 and 4 by the end of 2015 and to remove Colbert Unit 5 from service by the end of 2015. On June 28, TVA notified the EPA of its decision regarding Units 1-4 at Colbert, electing the “Remove from Service” option for these units effective June 30, 2016.
  • With respect to Widows Creek Units 1-6, TVA must retire two units by July 31, 2013, two additional units by July 31, 2014, and the remaining two units by July 31, 2015. TVA selected Units 3 and 5 for retirement effective July 31, 2013.
  • On July 15, TVA determined that Colbert Unit 5 will be idled on Oct. 1, 2013, a year ahead of the previous schedule.

On a more positive note for coal, TVA announced in March that it is proceeding with a $1.1bn emissions control project at the Gallatin coal plant. The project includes the installation of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and SO2 scrubbers at all four units of the 976 MW plant. The scrubbers are expected to be completed in 2016, with the SCR systems to follow in 2018.

The Watts Bar nuclear project is to add an 1,100-MW Unit 2 at the plant site in eastern Tennessee, in addition to the existing 1,100-MW Unit 1.

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.