Report: Replacing Cumberland Fossil Plant with energy efficiency and renewables would have much higher jobs outcomes

July 14, 2022

Dan Radmacher, (540) 798-6683),

Knoxville, Tennessee — The Tennessee Valley Authority could create thousands of jobs for the region if it implemented a mix of energy efficiency and renewable energy resources to replace the Cumberland Fossil Plant, according to a report released today by Appalachian Voices.

In comparing three “Clean Energy Portfolios” for replacing the capacity at Cumberland, the study finds an average of 739 direct, long-term jobs and 4,489 direct, temporary jobs would be created for the Tennessee Valley. This figure is in stark contrast to TVA’s preferred gas alternative for replacing the plant, which would produce just 25 to 35 long term jobs and only 1,000 temporary jobs. In TVA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement that considered how to replace capacity at Cumberland, the utility provided jobs projections for two gas alternatives but chose to omit that information for the only renewable alternative it studied.

“Our analysis shows that a clean energy alternative could create 20 to 30 times more long-term jobs than TVA’s preferred plan for Cumberland,” said Bri Knisley, Tennessee Campaign Manager for Appalachian Voices. “TVA should select a clean energy portfolio to replace the plant, and work with building trades unions, workforce development organizations and other key partners to ensure those jobs are high quality, well paid and provide good benefits.”

The report follows a critical, 19-page comment submitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in response to TVA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the plant’s replacement. In its comment, EPA highlighted numerous insufficiencies in TVA’s analysis and called on the utility to modify its preferred alternative or select a different preferred alternative entirely for the Cumberland plant.

Authors of the Appalachian Voices report also considered how TVA could make system-wide investments in energy efficiency to save energy and create jobs for the region. The study finds that if TVA committed to a goal of reducing energy sales by 1% each year via energy efficiency, an average of 1,816 direct, full-time jobs and 3,603 indirect and induced full-time jobs would be supported each year over a 14-year period. Meanwhile, total electricity savings between now and 2035 would amount to more than 19.1 million megawatt-hours.

“Even with a 1% annual target — which is the bare minimum TVA should be striving for — the amount of energy saved would be phenomenal,” said Rory McIlmoil, Senior Energy Analyst for Appalachian Voices. “It would be enough to eliminate the equivalent of the energy use of nearly 100,000 homes each year. Unfortunately, TVA could have been meeting that target already, saving customers money and reducing energy burdens for low-income households, but the agency inexplicably decided several years ago to eliminate most of its energy efficiency programs. It’s time for TVA to recommit to investing in energy efficiency.”

The report’s recommendations include a call for TVA to select a Clean Energy Portfolio alternative for replacing the capacity at the Cumberland plant to maximize jobs benefits for the Tennessee Valley and meet federal goals for climate, equity and clean energy. Read the full report here.


Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.