Monday, August 23, 2010

TVA phasing out coal-powered plants in favor of nuclear-generated power

The Tennessee Valley Authority announced Friday it will begin shuttering part of its aging fleet of coal-fired power plants in favor of nuclear energy and energy conservation. TVA President Tom Kilgore outlined the 10-year plan, which would have TVA "idle at least 1,000 megawatts of coal generation, more than 7 percent of its biggest source of power, by 2015," Dave Flessner of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. TVA directors also approved plans "to move ahead with reviving work on its unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Alabama and restructuring electric rates next spring to encourage limit consumption during peak demand periods," Flessner writes.

"We want to be a leader in cleaner energy and cleaner air, and that means we will have to be less reliant upon coal," Kilgore said. "That doesn’t mean that coal is going away, but we are looking at idling some of our coal units pretty soon." TVA got more than 60 percent of its electricity from coal-fired plants in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky in 2009. Until now, only one TVA-built plant has ever closed, the Watts Bar Steam Plant in Rhea County, Tenn., which closed in 1983.

"Some of the potential units on the chopping block could include the oldest units at the Widows Creek plant near Stevenson, Ala., the John Sevier plant near Rogersville, Tenn., and the Johnsville plant in West Tennessee," Flessner writes. Stephen Smith, executive director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said the decision was "absolutely the right path for TVA," but added "We believe there are a significant number of older, inefficient, dirty plants, even beyond the 1,000 megawatts that TVA is committing to retire today, that TVA should consider phasing out." (Read more)

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