The Tennessee Valley Authority is taking comment until Feb. 18 on a draft environmental assessment related to its lack of need for property next to the Widows Creek coal plant, because of the fact seven of eight of those coal units are being shut.
In 2010, TVA purchased about 600 acres immediately adjoining its Widows Creek Fossil Plant (WCF) in Jackson County, Alabama. The property was purchased to preserve the ability to convert wet coal combustion residuals at the plant to dry handling systems in the future. Since acquisition of the land, TVA’s potential need for this amount of property has changed. Due to the retirement and/or pending retirement of seven of the eight Widows Creek generating units, TVA no longer needs to preserve all of this property for its use. Therefore, TVA proposes to make 360 acres of the property available for light industrial use.
TVA’s Economic Development group evaluated the feasibility of the site for potential uses based on location, existing infrastructure, proximity to water, availability of transportation (railroad, barge, road network) and site characterization. After the evaluation, it was determined that the best use of the site would be light industrial use. The property would be made available by selling it at public auction, or through an easement or license.
Prior to TVA’s purchase of the property, some of the land was cleared, leveled, and developed with homes and some lots were landscaped with shrubs, flowers, trees, and turf grass. Following its purchase of the property, TVA removed the buildings and converted the area from low density residential and agricultural use to undeveloped land.
In February 2014, TVA completed an environmental assessment (EA) for the closure of the WCF Gypsum Stack (GS). To facilitate the closure, TVA is using approximately 60 acres of the purchased property as a soil excavation or borrow area to provide a sufficient quantity of suitable soil for construction of the final GS cover system. TVA plans to work with future developers of the property to continue to use the property as a soil excavation area for its GS closure project, as necessary.
Units 1-6 at Widows Creek were idled in 2011 and were retired in the 2013-2014 period. As of last fall, Unit 8 (465 MW summer net) was mothballed and it will be retired at some point in the unspecified future. That would leave only Unit 7 (473 MW summer net) in operation over the longer term.