Kentucky coal group argues at appeals court against TVA’s Paradise shutdown plan

The Kentucky Coal Association, in an April 3 brief filed at the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, laid out why it thinks a U.S. District Court erred in December 2014 in tossing out its lawsuit over the Tennessee Valley Authority‘s decision to shut two of three coal units at the Paradise power plant in western Kentucky and replace them with new gas-fired capacity at the site.

The association’s April 3 opening brief, following a notice of appeal it filed in February with the appeals court, said the issues on appeal are:

  • Whether the trial court erred when it denied a local landowners’ motion for preliminary injunctive relief and granted TVA’s motion for judgment on the record, allowing TVA to continue with its plan to close Paradise  Units 1 and 2 and construct a new 1,025-MW combustion turbine (CT)/combined cycle (CC) facility even though that decision is not supported by any least-cost planning engaged in by TVA pursuant to its TVA Act obligations.
  • Whether the trial court erred when it denied the landowners’ motion for preliminary injunctive relief and granted TVA’s motion for judgment on the record, allowing TVA to continue with its plan without first preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), even though the TVA’s own internal procedures call for an EIS when a major generating facility is being constructed.
  • Whether the trial court erred when it denied the landowners’ motion for preliminary injunctive relief and granted TVA’s motion for judgment on the record, allowing TVA to continue with its plan without first conducting an EIS, even though the Environmental Assessment (EA) the federal utility did perform yielded an “arbitrary and capricious” Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) by improperly segmenting the consideration of the effects of the natural gas pipelines that must be constructed to fuel the proposed new facility and weighing possible impacts against benefits. 

In late 2013, TVA announced that it would decommission and demolish Paradise Units 1 and 2 and replace them by constructing an entirely new natural gas-fueled CT/CC plant, with associated natural gas delivery and backup fuel storage infrastructure. This decision was a sudden change of course after years of investment into emissions controls for the coal-fueled Paradise Units 1 and 2. Through 2011 had TVA spent $5.4 billion – paid for by ratepayers including the landowners involved in this lawsuit – to control emissions at its coal-fueled generating units, the lawsuit noted. This included significant investments at Paradise in selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems to reduce NOx emissions by about 90% and scrubbers to reduce SO2 emissions by about 94%.

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.