TVA to retire more coal capacity; build Paradise gas unit

The Tennessee Valley Authority has approved a coal fleet plan that will retire eight coal units at three plant sites with more than 3,000 MW of combined generating capacity, the federal utility said Nov. 14.

TVA also said it will build a new gas-fired power plant on the grounds of its Paradise coal station in Kentucky.

A number of the affected coal units were already idled or scheduled for idling or retirement based on an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), TVA said following its board of directors meeting in Oxford, Miss.

  TVA must respond immediately to challenging trends in lower power demand, a slow economy, uncertainty in commodity pricing, and tougher environmental requirements, particularly on air emissions, TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson said.

“This will support our focus on cleaner energy and bring additional, necessary balance into our portfolio for managing our current and projected load profile,” Johnson told the board.

The retirements affect all five coal units at the Colbert Fossil Plant in Tuscumbia, Ala.; one of two operating coal units at Widows Creek Fossil Plant in Stevenson, Ala., and two of three coal units at the Paradise Fossil Plant near Central City, Ky. Paradise Unit 3, one of TVA’s largest coal units, will continue to operate.   

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had hoped that TVA would spare Paradise. TVA conducted detailed analyses including an Environmental Assessment to review options for meeting stricter air quality regulations at the Paradise plant, including installing additional emission controls on Units 1 and 2, building a new gas-fired generating plant at the site or taking no action.

Based on that review, the board on Nov. 14 approved the construction of a gas-fired plant at Paradise. This will result in an investment of approximately $1bn at the site. The two coal units will be retired when the gas plant is available.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.