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The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has announced plans to retire eight coal units at three plant sites representing more than 3 GW of combined generating capacity. President and CEO Bill Johnson says the TVA must respond immediately to challenging trends in lower power demand, a slow economy, uncertainty in commodity pricing, and tougher environmental requirements, particularly on air emissions.

"This will support our focus on cleaner energy and bring additional, necessary balance into our portfolio for managing our current and projected load profile," Johnson told the TVA board of directors on Thursday.

The board approved the coal fleet plan, which will affect the following: all five coal units at the Colbert Fossil Plant in Tuscumbia, Ala.; one of two operating coal units at Widows Creek Fossil Plant in Stevenson, Ala.; and two of three coal units at the Paradise Fossil Plant near Central City, Ky. Paradise Unit 3, one of TVA’s largest coal units, will continue to operate. TVA notes a number of the units were already idled or scheduled for idling and/or retirement based on an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency.

To meet stricter air-quality regulations, the board has also approved the construction of a gas-fired plant at Paradise. The move represents an approximately $1 billion investment at the site, and the two coal units will be retired when the gas plant is available.

“These were difficult recommendations to make, as they directly impact our employees and communities,” Johnson said. “But the plan is what’s best in terms of its positive impact on TVA’s rates, debt and the environment; and it will bring the greatest benefit to the people of the Valley.”

Furthermore, TVA says this new plan moves it toward a more balanced generation fleet of about 40% nuclear, 20% coal, 20% gas and 20% hydro, renewables and energy efficiency.




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