The Tennessee Valley Authority’s board voted Thursday, Nov. 14, to close six more coal-powered units in Alabama and replace two more in Kentucky with a new natural gas plant. Photo: Alex Slitz / AP

By Steven Mufson
14 November 2013

(Washington Post) – The Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the nation’s five biggest users of coal for electricity generation, said Thursday it would close down eight coal-fired power units with 3,300 megawatts of capacity.

The decision was prompted by a combination of environmental requirements, the age of the plants, competition from natural gas and declining electricity consumption in the TVA’s service area.

TVA executives said at an open meeting of the agency’s board of directors in Oxford, Miss., that they aim to reduce coal to 20 percent of total generating capacity, about half of what it was in 2010.

The plant closures include two coal-fired units in Kentucky, despite an appeal from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who tried to persuade TVA President Bill Johnson to leave them open. McConnell and most of the Kentucky congressional delegation wrote to Johnson warning that the closure would lead to job losses.

“Senator McConnell did what his constituents would expect him to, advocate on their behalf and on behalf of their state,” Johnson said. But, he added, “our objective is to make the best decision for the entire region, and that’s what we did.”

Environmentalists were satisfied. Many of the plants were more than 50 years old, and under a consent decree between the TVA, four state governments and the Sierra Club, the authority was required to install additional pollution control equipment known as scrubbers or shut down the plants.

Coal plants also face stiff competition from natural gas-fired plants. TVA executives said they wanted to build a new 800 megawatt gas-fired plant, but two of the TVA directors at the meeting wanted more information before approving the project. [more]

Tennessee Valley Authority to close 8 coal-fired power plants



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