TVA opts for full decommissioning of shut Widows Creek coal plant

The Tennessee Valley Authority said June 9 that it plans to fully decommission and remove power generation facilities at the retired, coal-fired Widows Creek Fossil Plant near Stevenson, Ala., making it available for commercial or industrial use.

TVA examined five possible alternatives for the site – maintaining the existing structures and equipment, a no action alternative and three differing deconstruction options  – as part of an Environmental Assessment. A Finding of No Significant Impact was issued on June 9 in support of TVA’s preferred alternative, which is to return the site to a “brownfield” state through demolition to grade with controlled explosive demolition of the plant’s three chimneys.

The final method of demolition will be determined during development of the deconstruction plan, TVA noted. The EA found only minor impacts associated with all three deconstruction options, all of which include demolition of the main structure. In the future, TVA could select either of the other two deconstruction alternatives as the preferred method, which would involve either dismantling the plant’s chimneys or a combination of demolition and dismantlement of the chimneys.

TVA’s preferred alternative and the one it is inclined to implement, is Alternative B1. This alternative involves the removal of retired or abandoned structures, roads, and parking lots associated with the coal-fired facility including the demolition of the Unit 1-8 chimneys through controlled demolition using explosives.

Demolition work is scheduled to begin in late 2017.

The Widows Creek plant is located on Guntersville Reservoir on the Tennessee River in Jackson County in northeast Alabama. It was a 1,600-MW coal-fired station. The first 140-MW unit, Unit 1, was constructed in 1950 and operation began in 1952. Five additional identical 140-MW units (Units 2-6) were built between 1952 and 1954. Two more units (Unit 7 at 575 MW and Unit 8 at 550 MW) began operation in 1961 and 1965, respectively. Between May 2012 and July 2013, Units 1-6 were retired under an agreement that TVA entered into with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Unit 7 was retired on Sept. 21, 2015. Unit 8 was idled in September 2014 and has been retired.

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.