TVA Releases Long-term Energy Plan, Announces Retirement of Two Coal Power Plants

On Feb. 15, The Tennessee Valley Authority released its draft energy generation plan for the next 20 years for public comment. The report outlines several different scenarios, such as an economic downturn or potential federal limits on carbon emissions, and also projects several different strategies, such as continuing with its current energy mix, prioritizing renewables or emphasizing distributed resources.

The report outlines potential solar additions of four to nine gigawatts by 2038, which amounts to the utility achieving between 3.6 percent and 8.2 percent of its 2018 electricity generation from solar. In all scenarios, TVA plans no new solar until 2023.

All of the utility’s scenarios include adding energy sources, even if demand continues to fall, citing a need to replace aging resources. The report does not project any added energy efficiency savings, aside from specific low-income programs, over the coming years.

The public comment period on TVA’s long-term plan runs through April 8.

At the utility’s quarterly meeting on Feb. 14, the board of directors voted to shutter two aging and polluting coal-fired power plants, Bull Run near Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Paradise 3 in Muhlenberg County, Ky. Bull Run is now scheduled to close in 2023 and Paradise in 2020. Even with their closure, the amount of energy TVA generates through burning coal is expected to remain at 17 percent for the next decade.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had urged TVA to keep the Paradise plant open, but the utility’s board members cited a combined $320 million in savings from closing the older, inefficient power plants.

Environmental advocates, including Appalachian Voices, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Sierra Club and Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment, applauded the move and called on TVA to ensure economic opportunities for workers and sound cleanup of the facilities. – By Molly Moore


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