TVA’s Colbert coal plant is no more; is second to be shut in Alabama

The Tennessee Valley Authority said March 25 that its coal-fired Colbert Fossil Plant in Alabama earns a proud and permanent place in the TVA story, as Unit 1—the last of its five units—was taken offline on the evening of March 23, ending a 61-year history of power generation.

Once the unit was offline, acting plant manager Mark Albright praised his team for their commitment to safety and providing reliable electricity: “I applaud all of you for your efforts. You came to work every day with the attitude to do your very best work for our customers. The Colbert family stayed focused on safety and caring for each other throughout this entire journey. Definitely a job well done!”

Kenny Mullinax, vice president of Western and Transitional Coal, echoed those sentiments. “I am extremely proud of Mark and the absolutely amazing Colbert employees,” Mullinax said. “You never lost focus throughout this challenging period as you brought your great plant to a graceful closure. The plan continued to run very reliably, remained spotless and the Colbert family never stopped caring about each other. The legacy you built will remain in our hearts forever.”

TVA announced more than a year ago that Colbert would cease operation by April 15, 2016, which is the extended compliance deadline under the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Colbert’s employees were offered transfers to other positions in the same job classification at other TVA fossil plants.

“After careful analysis, TVA we determined that it more cost effective to transition the facility to its next chapter in TVA history than to install costly pollution controls,” said Mullinax.

Colbert Fossil Plant had five generators, with a combined net generating capacity of 1,204 MW. Construction began in October 1951. Commercial operation began on Jan. 18, 1955.

Colbert was the last of TVA’s two coal-fired plants in Alabama. Widows Creek, near Scottsboro, Ala., shut down in September 2015 after 63 years of service.

The Colbert Combustion Turbine Plant continues to generate electricity and there is sufficient capacity within the TVA system to provide power to its 9 million customers, the utility said.

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.