Oldest, Dirtiest of TVA Coal Fleet May Be Retired

Guest Blog | April 11, 2011 | Press Releases

Knoxville, Tenn. (April 12, 2011) – The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), with support from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), has created an 11-minute video titled TVA At The Crossroads. On April 14th the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Board of Directors, will meet to consider it’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a final proposal for its 20- year plan released earlier this month. Among many recommendations, the IRP proposes that TVA reduce its coal-powered electricity generation in the range of 2,400 to 4,700 MW. In response to the IRP, this new video urges the TVA to commit to higher levels of coal plant retirements, starting with its oldest, dirtiest and least efficient plants, Johnsonville and Widows Creek.

TVA At The Crossroads demonstrates the environmental impacts that come from maintaining a coal fleet with an average age of nearly 50-years-old. With stunning visual shots of the Tennessee Valley and testimony from residents directly impacted by TVA’s reliance on outdated coal plants, the video underscores the need to retire these plants.

You can view TVA At The Crossroads at http://tinyurl.com/TVAAtTheCrossroads or at the www.cleanenergy.org homepage.

Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of SACE, and one of 16 individuals appointed by TVA to it’s IRP Stakeholder Review Group, also expects announcements about coal retirements from TVA in the near-term, “Financially, retiring older coal plants could actually save rate-payers money. That combined with the potential to have a positive impact on the water and air quality in the region means that there is no reason to delay announcing these retirements.” TVA’s IRP analysis shows that coal retirements can lead to lower-cost energy in the Tennessee Valley. If TVA moves forward with retirements, it will protect public health and the environment, and also save itself and ratepayers money by reducing the economic cost of generating power.

In its IRP, TVA explained that operating cost, costs associated with adding environmental upgrades, handling coal ash waste and emitting carbon pollution are all important retirement considerations. Both Johnsonville and Widows Creek were built in the early 1950’s, as these plants age they become more inefficient, release more pollutants and become even more expensive to operate. In 2009, Johnsonville emitted 32,006 tons of acid rain causing sulfur dioxide and 8,421 tons of ozone forming nitrogen oxides – making it one of TVA’s most polluting plants even while it produces less electricity than other, cleaner, plants.

Josh Galperin, policy analyst and research attorney for SACE is also hopeful that TVA will commit to retirements soon, “Construction at the Johnsonville plant started in 1948 and Widows Creek in the 1950s – they’re dinosaurs, they pollute the air more than the fleet average and TVA’s own report acknowledges that they may not be cost-efficient to run at this point. Cost,pollution, age; these are the factors that TVA considers when determining which plants to retire, so we hope they clearly understand the significant need to take Johnsonville and Widows Creek offline as soon as possible.”

TVA At The Crossroads was produced and directed by environmental filmmakers Carly Calhoun and Sam Despeaux. They also produced the film American Nightmare and are in the midst of a broader project exploring the dangers of coal ash, a waste byproduct of coal combustion. # # # 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. www.cleanenergy.org