TVA ignores warnings from federal agencies, moves forward with proposed Kingston Gas Plant

April 2, 2024

Eric Hilt, 615-622-1199,

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In an extremely disappointing move, the Tennessee Valley Authority issued a Record of Decision for the proposed Kingston Gas Plant, a dirty and expensive project that will hurt the climate and cost families in the Tennessee Valley millions of dollars in unnecessary costs. The new plant would also require a 122-mile pipeline.

The decision comes just days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressed “substantial concerns” about the proposed gas plant. In a letter, the agency criticized TVA for underestimating climate and air pollution impacts of the proposed gas plant, for failing to reasonably consider clean energy alternatives, and for preparing an unlawfully “inadequate” analysis that lacks critical information about the project.

EPA also warned that the proposed Kingston Gas Plant could lead to higher power bills across the region. A recent study found that the proposed gas plant would cost up to $1.35 billion more than clean energy alternatives by 2048 – an average of $56 million in unnecessary costs each year for the next 24 years. Those costs will likely be passed on to TVA customers.

“TVA has already raised power rates, in part because of the utility’s multi-billion-dollar gas spending spree. Doubling down on expensive fossil fuels at the Kingston site will make it even more difficult for families across the Tennessee Valley – especially those already facing some of the highest energy burdens in the country – to keep the lights on,” SELC Staff Attorney Trey Bussey said.

“TVA is using a faulty study to push forward their gas plans for Kingston, without showing the public the real financial or environmental costs,” said Gabi Lichtenstein, Tennessee Energy Democracy Field Coordinator at Appalachian Voices. “Why is CEO Jeff Lyash, the highest paid federal employee in the country, making a decision that could cost ratepayers over a billion dollars more than the alternative?”

Recently, the public learned that last year the TVA Board of Directors – which is made up of members appointed by the president – made a backroom deal to return final decision-making authority on the proposed Kingston Gas Plant back to the TVA CEO. The board’s abdication of decision-making power was buried in a general budget resolution that was not made public until months later and came shortly after the Board publicly voted to take back authority over the Kingston decision.

“This backroom deal between the TVA board and the federal utility’s leadership further highlights the incredible and unacceptable lack of transparency the utility has shown during the Kingston process,” SELC Senior Attorney Amanda Garcia said. “The TVA board must stop recklessly playing a game of hot potato with their important responsibilities and push the utility to invest in cleaner and cheaper power instead of building another fossil fuel plant at the Kingston site.”

This decision will force communities near the proposed plant to deal with decades of additional fossil fuel pollution. People in Kingston have unfortunately seen the damage fossil fuels can do. Fifteen years ago, more than a billion gallons of coal ash slurry broke through a dam at TVA’s Kingston coal plant, burying nearby homes. Hundreds of workers involved in the clean-up efforts have become sick and more than 60 have died. The proposed Kingston Gas Plant would be built at the site of this disaster.

The project is one piece of TVA’s multi-billion-dollar gas buildout. In the last two years, the federal utility has built, planned, or proposed eight gas plants and three gas pipelines in communities across the region.


The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the nation’s most powerful defenders of the environment, rooted in the South. With a long track record, SELC takes on the toughest environmental challenges in court, in government, and in our communities to protect our region’s air, water, climate, wildlife, lands, and people. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has a staff of 200, including more than 120 legal and policy experts, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.

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.