SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

TVA’s Coal Retirement Announcement Signals Big Steps Forward for Clean Energy in the Tennessee Valley


Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 865-235-1448,

Knoxville, Tenn. (November 14, 2013) The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) welcomes today’s announcement, made during the TVA Board of Directors’ meeting in Oxford, Miss., that TVA will retire 3308 megawatts of dirty coal-fired power at 3 facilities located throughout the Tennessee Valley – Paradise Units 1 and 2, Widows Creek Unit 8 and Colbert Units 1-5.

We applaud TVA’s difficult but correct decision to retire these plants from their generation mix. It’s the right decision economically, environmentally and for the health and well being of the Valley,” stated Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of SACE. “While retirements will have local impacts, we understand the broader implications are more significant. These actions set TVA on a more sustainable and economically viable course.”

Smith continues, “In addition, we applaud the CEO’s directive to reduce coal to approximately 20% of TVA’s generation mix. We believe this is the correct direction for the near term and that it creates the opportunity for cleaner resources to be developed and supported in the Valley. Ultimately, these decisions help bring TVA into the 21st century with a generation portfolio that is necessary to survive in the future.”

The coal plant retirements announced today will mean that 15,641,066 tons of carbon pollution will no longer be emitted annually once the plants are fully offline. Each facility has a significant coal ash waste problem as well, and TVA will need to properly remediate these impoundments to ensure groundwater contamination is resolved and prevented.

“TVA is acknowledging that it’s easier to meet electricity requirements through energy efficiency rather than by propping up old coal plants with expensive retrofits to satisfy increasingly stringent environmental regulations,” stated Jimmy Green, SACE’s Energy Policy Manager. “The cheapest and cleanest energy is the energy you don’t use.”

Some of today’s announced retirements are following through on commitments already agreed to by TVA in its 2011 Consent Decree with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  • Although TVA was previously committed to clean up, idle, or retire all 5 of the Colbert plant units in northern Alabama by 2015 and 2016 per the Consent Decree, it announced in July an accelerated timeline for idling the facility. Today’s full commitment to retire the facility is extremely welcome news.

The other announced retirements are bold steps beyond prior commitments and a clear sign that TVA sees coal as an energy source of the past and that continuing to upgrade these plants would represent bad investments for the utility.

  • Although six units at TVA’s Widows Creek plant in northern Alabama were already slated to retire under the Consent Decree, Unit 8 which was recently upgraded with modern air pollution controls, could have continued operations. Today’s announcement will ensure the retirement of all units but Unit 7 at Widows Creek and is a win for clean air and clean water in Alabama.
  • TVA previously had not announced plans to retire its Paradise plant in western Kentucky and had recently upgraded certain air pollution technologies on Units 1 and 2. With today’s announced retirement of Units 1 and 2, TVA is acknowledging that burning coal is no longer a smart business option.

“We anticipate additional coal retirements in the near future,” said Smith. “We trust that additional conversations on the future of TVA’s generation assets will be part of ongoing discussions in TVA’s upcoming Integrated Resource Planning process as well as the newly-formed the Regional Energy Resource Council (RERC), which I am proud to serve upon.”

Dr. Smith was recently named as a member of TVA’s RERC, which serves as an official advisory body to TVA’s Directors concerning TVA’s generation resources and future resource planning. SACE is also an active participant in TVA’s 2015 Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process, and participated in the previous two IRPs produced by TVA.



Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at