TVA looks at options for ripping out retired Sevier coal units

The Tennessee Valley Authority is taking comment until Jan. 8 on a draft environmental assessment covering the “deconstruction” of the coal-fired John Sevier Fossil Plant near Rogersville, Tennessee.

TVA has prepared a draft environmental assessment to evaluate the potential environmental effects of the future disposition of the physical structures associated with the retired coal units, including the powerhouse, coal handling facilities, and surrounding support buildings.

The John Sevier Fossil Plant in Hawkins County, Tennessee was operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority from 1957 until 2012, when the facility was retired. To maintain necessary power generation in the area, TVA replaced the coal-fired generation with a natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant on the John Sevier Fossil reservation. This new plant began operations in 2012 and generates 880 MW.

The John Sevier Fossil Plant (JSF) is located on 750 acres of rolling land southof the Holston River near Holston River Mile (HRM) 106 on the Cherokee Reservoir. TVA began operations at JSF in 1957 and continued to utilize the plant until 2012. The facility has four coal-fired generating units that produced 800 MW prior to its retirement.

The closure of the Fly Ash Stack, Bottom Ash Pond, Chemical Treatment Ponds, Coal Yard and Waste Stabilization Pond (Coal Yard Runoff Pond) are independent actions that will be evaluated separately for environmental impacts. TVA said it needs to determine the most cost-beneficial disposition solution while also considering safety, security, liability, and environmental risk at the plant site.

During alternatives development for this project, TVA engaged in discussions to conside rpotential reuse of the buildings at JSF. TVA determined that adaptive reuse of the buildings was not feasible due to the long lead time involved in developing alternative uses and lack of market demand for a large industrial site at this location.

TVA’s preferred option for this project is Alternative C in the environmental report, which involves the removal of all retired or abandoned structures, roads and parking lots associated with the coal-fired facility. The structures to be removed down to surrounding grade would include the powerhouse and outlying structures. Basements would be backfilled, pits and trenches would be brought up to surrounding grade and disturbed areas would be vegetated with top soil and seed. Any remaining electrical manholes would be plugged and abandoned.

The shutdown of Sevier was part of a broader effort to reduce TVA’s coal-fired generation. In April 2011, TVA entered into two agreements (collectively called the “Environmental Agreements”). The first agreement is a Federal Facilities Compliance Agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The second is with the states of Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and three environmental advocacy groups: the Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, and Our Children’s Earth Foundation. Under the Environmental Agreements, TVA agreed to retire 18 of its 59 coal-fired units by the end of 2017.

As of Sept. 30, 2010, TVA had 14,573 MW (summer net capability) of coal-fired generation. After actions taken to comply with the 2011 Environmental Agreements and actions by the TVA Board during 2014 are completed, TVA will have 8,089 MW (summer net capability) of coal-fired generation. As of Sept. 30 of this year, TVA had officially retired 11 units as part of this program: John Sevier Units 1-4; Shawnee Fossil Plant Unit 10; and Widows Creek Fossil Plant Units 1-6. Other retirements are on the way.

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.