Today the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) outlining its plans to retire the Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis and to replace it with a new natural gas-fired plant. We at SACE applaud TVA’s continued commitment to reduce its reliance on coal-fired energy and its efforts to reduce its overall contribution to carbon pollution. A 30-day public comment period for the Draft EA is now open and will close August 5. The ultimate decision will be voted on by the TVA Board at its upcoming August 21 Board meeting. Please stay tuned as we continue to dig into the draft EA and explore opportunities to work with TVA to ensure that replacement options utilizing renewable energy and energy efficiency resources are also considered.
The Allen plant is 55 years old and does not have sufficient air pollution controls needed to comply with upcoming air regulations for sulfur dioxide and hazardous air pollutants. Instead of moving forward with a plan to spend almost half a billion dollars to retrofit Allen as a coal plant, TVA has made the wise decision to retire the old and inefficient plant.
We were aware that the Allen decision was pending and SACE believes that TVA has a number of options available to it for replacement power. We see a tremendous energy efficiency resource that is being underutilized in the Memphis market and believe that the the Clean Line wind proposal and the continued availability of a strong solar resources all need to be factored into TVA’s replacement power decision.
Retiring Allen is great news for Memphians, who continue to struggle with the negative effects of poor air quality. Each year, the Allen plant emits thousands of tons of toxic air pollutants into the atmosphere that contribute to negative air quality across the region. In 2012, Memphis was number one on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s list of the “most challenging places to live with asthma.” Moving away from coal is the right decision for both public health and the environment and we are happy to see TVA embrace this choice.
TVA will hold a public open house on Tuesday, July 8, at Memphis’ Amtrak Central Station Boardroom at 545 South Main Street Memphis, TN 38103 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The purpose of the open house is to allow TVA the opportunity to provide information about the draft EA, answer questions, and record comments. SACE will be working on formal comments and developing talking points as we continue to learn more about TVA’s plans – so stay tuned!